Wednesday, March 15, 2017

rebirth of blog, of ideas, of planet?

I was pleased to read that James Fallows has taken a break from blogging. At different times his wisdom has had its impact on me.

In part I am jogged back into blog by the internal need to write and attendance last weekend at the local gathering of the Fellowship of Australian Writers.

There is so much to write about and ideally with visual component. I have photos from a local journey Monday to blog soon, photos and aesthetic and social context. We have quickly filled the time allotted to be in Italy with valuable activity nearer home... though including too many medical appointments.

There are also the very large questions in the world which require reflection. One must read the daily news but with distance glasses, to note with sympathy the frenetic pace of journalism (a rise in proof errors evident in the most noble media) and the difficulties of the practitioners in getting out of warring trenches.

Politico proves perhaps the most valuable insight into American (thus global) affairs, especially for its daily US and EU 'playbooks' which for a mind of anthropologist bent is wondrously detailed with all the tiny things happening, without gloss—link after link after link of course. Also for reflective items, including this yesterday on the Jekyll and Hyde in Trump and his administration.

Back in October 2016 Fallows drew attention to this little movie clip below in which Trump is introspective (well Fallows used the word 'introspective' but in application to this narcissist it probably needs special definition). It has a different significance now (as has so much) compared with last October. Trump is now in residence at Citizen Kane's castle, somewhat isolated. In the clip Trump focuses on Kane's loneliness at peak of empty achievement, with isolation from spouse (Mrs Trump still living in New York with young son).  We need to know where the mind in this film clip from years back is now. We need to think about that away from the yapping of daily media, either side.

Directed by Errol Mark Morris. From one of Morris's "aborted projects"
Morris known best for his film with Robert McNamara, which all these current leaders should watch
and which can sometimes be found at YouTube or Vimeo, eg here..

In November 2016 Foreign Policy wrote comparing the Trumps with the Borgias.  My comment at the time was here.

The comparison with the Borgias is relevant in wide context of the way Italy in 1500 or so was not a place of landed gentry but of power and status coming from the ferocious contest of warrior businessmen, businessmen for the most part obsessed with local, with trade as maximising the out, minimizing the in. Political violence of selfish nature, even in Florence where the gangster-businessmen amassed knowledge over hundreds of years that produced a renaissance.

That is pretty close to the actuality of current 'American democracy'. 

We lack a Florence now. But maybe it was hard to see Florence then as we see it now. 

There was a information renaissance 500 years ago in Italy and elsewhere as printing presses proliferated and the control of the Roman church over language and entitlement to information and expression–the control of a 'deep state'–was under siege. 

We have now an information renaissance in the literal sense of 'rebirth' and in the historical sense of altered entitlement to knowing, to communicating, to use of language of choice, not language of the 'deep state', deliberate rejection of the deep state. Of disobedience. 

We will have to work hard to get the new knowledge system of now, as in social media, able and willing to look beyond virtual-local and tabloid things. Has the moment passed for educators to realise their job is less to impart knowledge, more to offer advice on good research and open-mindedness in assessing the now-everywhere sea of knowledge? 

We can compare with 500 years ago and say there is much more danger now, the weapons are such, the world is so jammed up. However, we can also consider that back 500 years for most people the world was as large as feet and eye could carry in a day, unless dragged to war, and life involved fear of disease, fear though teaching of horror dogmas, sudden entanglements with 'history' by pillage, sacking and rape: a generally more precarious place than our present, though with familiar themes. 

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