Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/#9a417fe513f58988c3b5b1e84cfc57397194a79b 2023-11-08T20:20:39Z Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/ ranprieur@gmail.com November 8. http://ranprieur.com/#b4dc3027e48738872beac9aca82d1dbd0e83f127 2023-11-08T20:20:39Z November 8. Monday's post was inspired by a book I just read, Hospicing Modernity by Vanessa Machado de Oliveira. Now I'm wondering about the difference between the critique of "modernity" and the critique of "civilization". I don't think we're talking about two different things, but two different semantic strategies for talking about the same thing.

Calling it civilization turns our attention to things that are thousands of years old: cities, money, violent conquest. Anti-civ discussions are often hypothetical and puritanical: What would we have to give up -- or force other people to give up -- in order to save the world?

Calling it modernity turns our attention to cognitive habits that are only a few hundred years old, and invites us to examine and change our own ways of thinking. Morris Berman has written some great books on this subject, starting with The Re-enchantment of the World.

A key quote from Hospicing Modernity: "The end of modernity may not manifest primarily as economic or ecological collapse, but as a global mental health crisis where the structures of modernity within us start to crumble."

I think the crumbling started 250 years ago with Romanticism, which rejected modernity's rationalism, while intensifying its individualism. So we're not looking at one monolithic thing, but an ongoing negotiation among a bunch of things. I don't see the future as a return to the past, or a transcendence to a new level, but a continuing exploration of the landscape of the human potential.

November 6. http://ranprieur.com/#ee8686e6c12d4bdbb7e1258cae2437b1589a9471 2023-11-06T18:00:37Z November 6. Today's subject, modernity and doom. We have used too many levels of abstractions and now the future looks bleak. It's not well written but it makes an important point:

In e.g. software development, too many specialists have been abstracted away and replaced by tools and automation and fewer and fewer people understand anything even one layer directly beneath the layer they are working on. This is a major problem because we will eventually reach a point in which very few people can fix anything in the layers below.

My rude-ass car is about all the new features that are supposed to make cars more safe and convenient, and instead they make the driving experience frustrating.

China's Age of Malaise is a long article mainly about how bad their dictator is, and while this is true, America is also in an age of malaise and we don't even have a dictator yet.

Great Reddit thread, Is there anywhere in the world someone can just live for free? What people mean by "live for free" is the same thing I mean when I say my highest value is free time. I want to have fewer relationships with modern society.

For the last few hundred years, humans have been experimenting with a radical new way of thinking and living, based on individualism, competition, number and measure, predictability and control, linear progress, and naive ideas about quality of life. Life is getting better in the most simple-minded and obvious ways, at the expense of many subtle ways that life is getting worse, and because our culture doesn't show us these things, we don't know why we're unhappy.

The mainstream left is completely blind to this. The right can feel it, but they don't know how to think about it, and they're unable to imagine any alternative except strong leaders backed by violence. So we're going to get more of those, as shit falls apart.

November 3. http://ranprieur.com/#7a93653ae83da51c7c57ff05312170afa3ebf6da 2023-11-03T15:30:23Z November 3. Stray links, starting with an interesting thread from r/psychonaut, Why is the lonely god thing so commonly experienced? The consensus is, because it's true, but we're still not quite understanding it from our limited perspective.

Some good news, the US community that banned cars, a new housing development outside Phoenix, that's designed so you can realistically live there without a car.

A nice thread on Ask Reddit, What is something you think Gen Z is doing right?

And a super-fun video that I discovered through bibliomancy, when my finger landed on the word "Lindy": Lindy Hop JnJ Finals. If you want more, here's the Lindy Hop scene from the 1941 movie Hellzapoppin.

November 1. http://ranprieur.com/#d8a2fc539447315a9c762fa958c3c95c0ab6e2b9 2023-11-01T13:10:40Z November 1. Despite Monday's post, I actually do a lot of self-improvement, especially when I'm high. I like to walk around trying different ways of focusing my attention, and the latest thing I've learned is how to dodge people on the sidewalk. This happens a lot in the city: Someone is coming the other way, and it's not totally clear who's going to take which side. I've discovered that if I put the center of my vision somewhere else, and watch them with my peripheral vision, it's a lot easier to get it right.

Why has no one ever told me this? Probably other people are doing it subconsciously. My particular kind of brain damage is that my body has no autopilot. This makes me think back to P.E. class, in which I got no physical education whatsoever. I don't remember a single instruction about how to angle a body part, not even how to flip my wrist to throw harder, something a friend taught me when I was 30 years old, in ten minutes.

Imagine it's your first day of math class. The teacher says, instead of doing boring math instruction, we're just going to go straight to the test. Everyone else in the class is a math genius, and they're all like, woo-hoo, a test! They're breezing through it and you're staring at the symbols completely clueless. At least they're not mean. They watch awkwardly and give you a decent grade for effort. This happens every day for ten years.

Now I walk past homeless people and wonder, how much better would they be doing, if they had got the right kind of basic personal attention when they were five years old, instead of being put through the meat grinder of public schooling? Related: a Hacker News thread on Home schooling.

Anyway, now that I'm old, I have to give a lot of attention to body mechanics to stay ahead of chronic injuries. I finally worked out the formula for good posture, and it's not at all intuitive: firm stomach and tucked chin. The tucked chin forces me to keep my breastbone raised.

I also practice basic moves with my arms or legs, and I've noticed a difference between the two sides of my body. My left side is like a guy in a suit of armor, confident but stiff and clumsy; my right side is like a wounded cat, agile but wavery and hesitant. So I'll alternate a move between the left and right, and try to work out the best of both.