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Friday, February 17, 2023

Brian Dean explains his new book for RAW fans


As planned, Brian Dean at RAW Semantics has put up a post, explaining why his new book, Lazy Person's Guide to Framing: Decoding the News Media, would be of interest to Robert Anton Wilson fans. The first couple of paragraphs lay out the thesis:

" 'Models and muddles', 'semantic maps', belief systems, etc (RAW’s favoured lexicon) – I regard as synonymous with cognitive frames. Both approaches (RAW’s and framing) refer to experiential symbolic constructs (what else is there to talk of?) – language and metaphor as brain 'software', grounded in notions of embodied cognition (as opposed to disembodied reason).

"Both have a (post-)modern worldviews perspectivism that sometimes seems mistaken for anything-goes subjective relativism, and which presents 'challenges' to an ancient 'objectivist' view/habit that still seems prevalent nearly everywhere. Both can facilitate insight, tolerance and irony on tricky matters of politics, media, culture and ontology."

Brian has closely studied cognitive scientist George Lakoff, and tries to popularize it for the average reader — "it’s written especially for idlers." Perhaps  the analogy here may be with Alfred Korzybski's work; Science and Sanity, a weighty tome that RAW said he read in a weekend, seems too much for many, and other writers tried to make it easier for people to understand him, including RAW. See the popularizers Michael Johnson writes about.  Michael mentions at least six books that sought to popularize Korzybski, including Language in Thought and Action by Samuel Hayakawa, about which he writes, "Language In Thought and Action is a delightful read, and will make you "smarter" right away. However, if you decide then to look at his source - Science and Sanity - you will probably be STUNNED by all the math and science."

Brian's book is available at the UK Amazon, and also at the American one. I also gave a bit of background on the book when Brian announced it. 


Brian Dean said...

Thanks for this, Tom. I'm aware that some folks reading this aren't keen on Lakoff for various reasons (I recall Jesse Walker, whose writings on film, etc, I appreciate, writing quite a scathing piece about him - which naturally I found deeply unfair and totally unrepresentative!). On the other hand, some other folks here I think appreciate Lakoff. In fact, I first came across his work on frames way back, on the Usenet RAW fans group - from Michael Johnson and Dan Clore. Michael, who who you also mention in your post, wrote some very insightful and knowledgeable posts on Lakoff at his Overweening Generalist blog (which I recommend that people look at, since the're also in a Wilson context). Anyway, thanks again for the mention, and keep up the fantastic work you do here.

Richard Lawrence said...

I am reading it now (Kindle Edition) and it is an exceptional book. I'm looking forward to reviewing it.

supergee said...

Lakoff is a fundamentalist materialist, and his severely reductive view of the human mind helps him understand many voters.