Monday, October 7, 2013

Coincidance, Week Four

"How to Read/How to Think"

Much of this is reminiscent of a rather famous recent book, Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Kahneman writes that actually thinking is a great deal of work, so most of the time, we avoid it by calling up quick associations.

"If a writer tries to provoke thinking .... is it an attempt to liberate readers from the mechanical repetition of dead thoughts?" (Page 71). Much of Wilson's writing is an attempt to liberate readers in this way.

Wilson's observations on the virtue of paying attention has implications for everyday life. Most traffic accidents are caused by a driver's momentary lapse of attention. The best books require a reader to pay attention to every sentence.

"How to Read/How to Think (Afterwords)"

"One of the irritations that provoked this piece in the first place was certain neo-pagans in California who regularly speak about Christians in the way that Hitler used to speak about Jews." (Page 73).

Perhaps it is an interesting exercise for the reader to think of examples of when he/she is tempted to do the same thing, to speak about "Republicans" as a group (or "liberals" or "conservatives" or "libertarians.") Anyone who identifies as a libertarian (or is labelled as such) will be assured that he "is" a racist. I know I have to struggle against putting simple labels on Republicans.

"Why do you live in Ireland, Dr. Wilson?"

Swift "served human liberty" (line 5)

Swift wrote his own epitaph, which said, "Go forth, Voyager,
and copy, if you can,
this vigorous (to the best of his ability)
Champion of Liberty." (Wikipedia article here.)

"The Poet as Defense Early Warning Radar System"

"Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world" -- Percy Bysshe Shelley. Perhaps in the 20th century, novelists and filmmakers took over that role?








8 comments:

supergee said...

Some professors and critics say that the correct interpretation of "The Turn of the Screw" is the second one because ghosts do not exist. There are many ways to avoid thinking.

supergee said...

Some professors and critics say that the correct interpretation of "The Turn of the Screw" is the second one because ghosts do not exist. There are many ways to avoid thinking.

Eric Wagner said...

I found this uncritical inference test: http://www.dh.id.au/InfTest1.htm

Eric Wagner said...

I missed one on each test.

Eric Wagner said...

The Pound quote "fake is fatiguing" makes me think of "F for Fake."

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

In connection with these points, I notice that RAW recommends that everyone spend a certain amount of time reading political propaganda THAT YOU DON'T AGREE WITH in order to confront other ideas. I know this is a work in progress for me -- I tend to read libertarian blogs, for example, more than I read conservative blogs. At the same time, it seems to me that the Internet makes it easier to follow this advice than when RAW gave it, and you had to actually seek out copies of National Review, the Nation, etc.

gacord said...

I find it easier to think and speak decently about members of a group than I do the underlying belief systems of some groups. Then sometimes I just bristle inside and I can't yet help it. Work in Progress.

Also, I confess I'm under-read in Ginsberg. The Poet as Defense Early Warning Radar System shall be my new springboard into his poetry.

Oz Fritz said...

In How to Read/How to Think RAW gives concrete examples of what the Sufis mean when they talk about everyone operating in a state of mechanicality and "sleep." I find this valuable and practical, a kind of tie in between metaphysical philosophy and everyday life.

He also offers solutions to the mental fog he points out - attention and General Semantics, both of which I find right on the money.