Thursday, December 31, 2015

Blogyear 2015 in review

My posting rate continued its steep decline, only 17 posts this year compared to 24 last year. There are many reasons for that I suppose: I have been writing a lot on private social media groups, and so-called real life has been making some demands on my time. Here՚s a review of all posts except those that were obviously trivial or transitory:

Nerds vs Feminists riffs on some of the tension between feminism and nerd culture, which I took as an excuse to go into The Kids These Days, They Have It So Easy, Why In My Day mode.

Martyrs and the Coordination of Sentiment was written in response to the Charlie Hebdo killings and relates loosely to early writings on the sacred and politics.

This May Day post briefly examines my mixed attitudes towards both the left and capitalism and identifies something I labeled “fake solidarity”, which may be worth a longer examination. And a companion piece issued on Fake Labor Day toyed with my very uninformed notions about the Marxist concept of labor, another thing that might get worth knowing more about.

Three Forms of Antipolitics is also a product of the interaction of various nerdish ideas and politics, or more precisely the efforts of the former to deny or escape from the latter. It led into a followup about the specific incident when Mencius Moldbug got banned from the Strange Loop conference.

Another massacre, another post about the political sacred. I՚m starting to be slightly embarrassed by using such events as excuses to exercise my intellectual obsessions. If I was actually profiting from it, I՚d feel guilty of exploiting tragedy.

Burning Man Politics is about just that. And now I՚m embarrassed in a different way, by the fact that I՚m focusing on the least festive aspects of a festival. Why am I so obsessed with the political dimension of things? It՚s not like I՚m some grand macho radical, or even that I feel qualified to tell other people how they should behave. I don՚t even really like most political discourse these days, which tends to be split between the virulently idiotic and the appallingly self-righteous. But somehow I feel compelled to focus on the topic, as if some obscure duty was calling me.

Then finally I emitted a long piece about play and David Graeber, which is too fresh to be reviewed. It՚s a small chunk cut from a tangled web of thoughts about big ideas like goals, activity, representation, how minds actually work, and the meaning of life. I haven՚t really had much success in squeezing those ideas into blog form.

If I could bring myself to make a conscious effort to build an audience then I՚d probably start from my all-time most popular post on human-hostile systems and try to wire myself into the current excitement about AI risk. I am pretty sure all those people are wrong, but I am not sure why I believe that, and since “all those people” includes some very smart individuals it might be interesting and worthwhile to try to figure it out in more detail.

2016 promises to be an interesting year as the US political system goes through a slow-motion implosion, climate change becomes harder to ignore, and software continues to eat large chunks of the world.

1 comment:

Josh W said...

About talking about politics, I've been drawn into that too for a while, mainly because politics overlaps with so many systems I am interested in. I find myself talking "the politics of x" by default, because I've always been interested in those overlaps, and that is how people are talking about them.

There is a problem with this though, that whereas before I would probably be thinking about this slowly and constructively, my primary interaction with these ideas is in correcting what I see as flawed frameworks.

Effectively, politics is hijacking a cognitive process that works in the same domain by happening at a much faster refresh cycle, so if you're not careful, you import a lot of work designed specifically around refuting what you see as errors in other positions. The result is a load of cruft you have to scrape off.

And I almost mean that literally, my first version of this comment was about to talk about why I think these things are particularly urgent in the current context, what problems I think the current system is failing to address etc. but I cut it out, because it's a representation of the very phenomena that makes thinking about social/systemic/logical/technical/reflective/emotional/pragmatic related things less fun: Too much fighting!

The answer is not that I want to want to be apolitical, but that I want to re-emphasise those elements of my own thought that do not particularly conform to the pressing issues of the day.

A great antidote is to read vaguely political systematic works from completely the wrong decade, you can see when current affairs are appearing in a way that is basically irrelevant to their points, which is very encouraging.

Also, I would be very interested in reading what happens when you go through multiple steps of doing that decrufting process I do for myself:

This news issue reminds me of these social phenomena, lets think about those again, can I find a weird place where they would be applying that isn't newsworthy? What are the properties here, what does that remind me of? etc.