[NetBehaviour] a literature project

Max Herman maxnmherman at hotmail.com
Mon Mar 30 01:43:14 CEST 2020

Some obscure but interesting stay-at-home findings.

I found this today in a new book I'm reading by John Kabat-Zinn, Meditation is Not What You Think (2018), introduction xxix-xxx:

"It turns out that we all have, lying deep within us, in our hearts and in our very bones, a capacity for a dynamic, vital, sustaining inner peacefulness and well-being, and for a huge, innate, multifaceted intelligence that goes way beyond the merely conceptual.  When we mobilize and refine that capacity and put it to use, we are much healthier physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  And much happier.  Even our thinking becomes clearer, and we are less plagued by storms in the mind.
"This capacity for paying attention and for intelligent action can be cultivated, nurtured, and refined beyond our wildest dreams if we have the motivation to do so.  Sadly, as individuals, that motivation often comes only when we have already experienced a life-threatening disease or a severe shock to the system that may leave us in tremendous pain in both soma and psyche.  It may only come, as it does for so many of our patients taking the MBSR program in the Stress Reduction Clinic, once we are rudely awakened to the fact that no matter how remarkable our technological medicine, it has gross limitations that make complete cures a rarity, treatment often only a rear-guard action to maintain the status quo, if there is any effective treatment at all, and even diagnosis of what is wrong an inexact and too often woefully inadequate science."

For comparison, this passage from Marvin Minsky, Society of Mind, (1988) p. 80, also read today for the first time:

"And as for what we call 'intelligence,' my view is that each person who can speak coherently already has the better part of what our heroes have.  Then what makes genius appear to stand apart, if we each have most of what it takes?
"I suspect that genius needs one thing more: in order to accumulate outstanding qualities, one needs unusually effective ways to learn....It is those hidden tricks of mental management that produce the systems that create those works of genius....
"Finally, an awful thought: perhaps what we call genius is rare because our evolution works without respect for individuals.  Could any tribe or culture endure in which each individual discovered novel ways to think?  If not, how sad, since the genes for genius might then lead not to nurturing, but only to frequent weeding-out."

Finally this from Duncan Watts, Small Worlds, (1999), pp. 221-222, read today for the first time:

"In summary, the introduction of the topologies of Part I to games of cooperation seems to have a significant impact on both the emergence of cooperative behavior in a homogeneous population and the evolution (or, more accurately, preferential reproduction) of cooperative strategies in a heterogeneous population.  Unfortunately it is difficult to draw much in the way of generally applicable lessons from this, except that in the case of Generalized Tit-for-Tat strategies, cooperation tends to do worse in poorly clustered graphs such as random graphs.  This seems to be because cooperation, as defined by the Prisoner's Dilemma and strategies like Tit-for-Tat, relies for its success upon a group of cooperators banding together against the evils of an uncooperative world and scoring points by cooperating with each other.  Once a few defectors can infiltrate this seed, by way of shortcuts, then the fledgling cooperation rots from the core out and collapses.  In the context of the evolution of strategies, however, this does not always seem to be the case, as (recall Fig. 8.13) cooperation seems sometimes to evolve preferentially in small-world (but not random) graphs.
"There is, however, a more positive spin to this story: for at least some range of h, cooperation does just fine in a small world (although not in a random one).  This may have implications for organizational design, where both the efficient transmission of information and generally cooperative behaviour are advantageous to an organization's performance.  Solving optimisation problems like this by varying the connectivity of networks is not an approach that has received much attention, but it may turn out to be useful in a whole range of applications."

From: Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com>
Sent: Friday, March 27, 2020 12:27 PM
To: Max Herman via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
Cc: Max Herman <maxnmherman at hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: [NetBehaviour] a literature project

personally, I hate the word 'genius.' it blocks, it's doxa, it rides
poorly, it eliminates, it effaces, it touches too much on issues of class,
if not race, gender, who does the defining, mensa, iq text biases, etc.
2020 or not. the same for every year. too loaded, perhaps too
unintelligent itself, when we're slowly adapting to the splendid variety
of lie, AI and NI in the cosmos?

best, Alan

On Fri, 27 Mar 2020, Max Herman via NetBehaviour wrote:

> Hi all,
> While processing the current year's events, I've been reminded of an old
> (and not very good) literature project I did long ago.
> This in turn has led to some thoughts about a potential new project. Maybe
> this is one way I process literature and experience, to ask what is going on
> now, then ask what from the past might be relevant, then ask what future
> events might be the same, different, desirable, possible, etc. in an ongoing
> cycle of comparison, review, and revision.
> The hypothetical new project doesn't fit the standard definition of a
> literature project at first glance, but might have subtler relations to some
> aspects of past literature (like say the haiku, koan, riddle, or folk tale).
> I don't know at all if I will "do" the project, or want to, or if it even
> can be done, or if it should be done; or, if it should be done, how, and by
> whom; or if it is even possible for there to be a "done" and a "how" and "by
> whom." But the hypothetical literature project I'm thinking of could be
> named "what is genius 2020?" Its full textual extent could be three
> questions: "What do you think about the concept of genius? What do you think
> about the year 2020? How do you think the concept of genius and the year
> 2020 are related?"
> In my life I've found often that asking too many questions, being too
> questioning, can be a false path that leads me to misjudgments and bad
> consequences. Sometimes being of a simple and non-questioning mind is very
> important for me to retain balance, perspective, and context. Following
> group conventions, the ebb and flow of human sentiment in which we all move
> albeit in different places and ways, can also be beneficial in its own
> right. I certainly don't know the answer to these dilemmas.
> I suppose that being too "answering" can also be a source of terrible
> imbalance!
> I wonder now if it would be better to ask just one question rather than
> three: "how do you think the concept of genius and the year 2020 are
> connected?" (This seems more concise, but I find the somewhat magical
> pattern of three more reassuring.)
> Perhaps we are all asking and answering this question in our own way, if not
> in these exact terms, the best we can all the time anyway. What is going on?
> What does it mean? How should I be? Perhaps it is best left as a personal
> and internal question, a mystery in the ancient sense of something to
> contemplate calmly, quietly, and slowly, a question generally unspoken and
> unanswered but no less alive and well for being in that subtle form.
> Very best regards,
> Max
> +++++
> genius (n.)
> late 14c., "tutelary or moral spirit" who guides and governs an individual
> through life, from Latin genius "guardian deity or spirit which watches over
> each person from birth; spirit, incarnation; wit, talent;" also "prophetic
> skill; the male spirit of a gens," originally "generative power" (or "inborn
> nature"), from PIE *gen(e)-yo-, from root *gene- "give birth, beget," with
> derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups. Sense
> of "characteristic disposition" of a person is from 1580s. Meaning "person
> of natural intelligence or talent" and that of "exalted natural mental
> ability" are first recorded 1640s.

web http://www.alansondheim.org/index.html cell 347-383-8552
current text http://www.alansondheim.org/wx.txt
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.netbehaviour.org/pipermail/netbehaviour/attachments/20200329/e83397ae/attachment.htm>

More information about the NetBehaviour mailing list