Friday, February 21, 2014

8 Hours!?!

Yesterday I worked for almost eight hours...EIGHT freaking hours. Can you imagine working like that five days a week?  &%$# on that!

This has been an exhausting week. Not only have I put in over 20 hours...but, I've done manual labor. Just let that sink in.

I painted my room. Well, I put colors on the wall. I spackled some of the holes and even sanded some of the spackling but mainly I just covered the walls with paint.

I spent about 8 years, off and on, as a house painter. Started right after I got out of the Army and while I was an undergraduate...between jobs after graduate school, and whenever I needed some folding money.

If my old boss was to come by and see the work...he'd probably try to retroactively fire me. We got color though and that's the main thing. Color and pictures.

Keep in mind I couldn't completely ignore my day job for this task. I spent time on the road this week...from up to French Camp and down to McComb.

This was taken just off the Natchez Trace between French Camp and Kosciusko.  The phone decided we were in McCool, Mississippi but, of course, any place I go in Mississippi is made McCool by my presence.

McComb was an especially taxing trip. I was so worn out by dinner that it took four bowls of banana pudding at The Dinner Bell just to get my energy back up for a few more hours of work.

Six or seven hours in the car isn't a lot in my line of work but, it is long enough to have your patience and sanity tested by idiot philosophers (as opposed to non-idiot philosophers who have the grace to spend most of their time driving a tractor rather than being a smart-ass). I found a series of podcast called Philosophy Bites put on by David Edmonds and Nigel Warburton. Each podcast features a philosopher being questioned by Edmonds or Warburton on a specific topic. 

One particularly irritating example...Ronald Dworkin on the Unity of Value. He takes two values that are commonly, and to my view rightly, believed to be contradictory...Liberty and equality. Then he shows how they are actually compatible. How? By altering the definitions until they are reasonable. How do you know they are reasonable? They no longer contradict each other. Ronald Dworkin has discovered the color green and mistaken it for the elimination of the colors Yellow and Blue.

As an aside, Spliff and I have argued about this on various occasions...all I can say about Dworkin is that he is no Spliff.

Then there are those who have interesting insights about the findings of neuroscience but don't really seem to be doing philosophy...hallucinations, personality disorders, etc. There are some delights like Emma Borg on Context Sensitivity and Language or Nick Bostrom on the insanity of Simulation Theory (you, me and Tom's house-cat are almost certainly computer generated's not that easy to dispute). 

It was Galen Strawson on Pansychism that took the prize. Strawson is a self proclaimed Physicalist. In this view everything is physical through and through...merely physical. Everything has a material explanation. He then addresses the big screaming, purple experiencing, problem with this view...Consciousness. You can't deny the existence of experience but to accept experience as real is to accept the existence of non-physical things...nevermind that, how do you explain the emergence of Consciousness from non conscious material. Science can't do it. It can explain the complex process that seems to accompany consciousness but we don't have access to the data of dosen't exist in any accessible way.

My favorite exchange was when the interviewer, I can't remember which one it was says..."it could be the result of some magic interjection but that's implausible." As if there were anything plausible about consciousness in the first place. 

Sam Harris provides an answer in The Mystery of Consciousness's "incomprehensible - a miracle, in other words." Something, non-physical has arisen from the purely physical, something has emerged from the absence of some thing. No problem for me the Theist...and, obviously Sam, the non-theist, has learned to live with it...not so Strawson. Strawson's answer is that because everything is physical and experience exists...everything must be experiential. Consciousness must be integral to all didn't emerge it was always there. A cardboard box, a wad of gum stuck under a desk are conscious on some level...dear God, that means there must be something it's like to be a urinal at a bus station or Adamparsons' toothbrush. 

I actually enjoyed his's a clever way of trying to deal with his problem.  After all, it can't be tested. 

The biggest bore of the week came, not from Philosophy Bites, but from an interview at The Whitney with Lawrence Wiener. What a silly ass. At one point, he states "good people can make bad art and bad people make good art...that's why I don't want to know anything about the people I'm showing with."
Yeah man, he doesn't place any importance on personal morality...that's so f****ing bougie. Unless..."they're racist, or sexist...or you know fascists."

That is the kind of shit that causes me to have acute visions, hallucinations almost, of beating a blazing, 50 gallon drum with a baseball bat over and over until I collapse from exhaustion.


  1. First impressions...
    Red and blue gorgeous. Orange chair installation inspired. Paintings wow. Wow. Elephant feet in a swamp, stillness. Seasick Steve on the right of the table...? And I've never seen a real person in a check shirt and dungarees!
    Philosophy...this is not my forte... so I need to read this back again, maybe a couple of times, very slowly (have you seen Tony Hancock trying to read Bertrand Russell at the beginning of Hancock's Half Hour 'The Bedsitter' episode'?)

    1. "It's me. It's me...I'm a terrible writer."

      You should have been in the kitchen last night as I sat at the bar and tried to explain the Simulation Theory (insane but not complicated..or maybe uncomplicated to the insane..I don't know) to Martha...I got a dirty look.

      The WOW I am going to assume is for my painting in the top left corner..and not for the Mondrian, the Klee and the Kandinsky...or do I need to expand my enemies list :X.

      I love those cypress trees...especially when they grow and deeper water..giant hips.

      The Dinner Bell is as good as supper at my Grandma's...except they have a table that spins. The old fella there is wearing what we'd call bib-overalls or, just overalls. We call blue jeans dungarees...I have a pair of bib overalls but I do not own a pair of dungarees. Can you believe that?

      All you really need to draw from Stawson is this...for materialist or physicalist (people who believe there is only material that everything can be explained physically) Consciousness is an equation that looks like 2 + 2 = 5. In fact, as Harris points out, it is like an equation that says 2 + 2 = 5 and there's no way around it.

  2. Hell, Erik, it's Sunday morning, and my brain has seized up as a result of reading your philosophy stuff. And I spent three years studying the damn subject. Have downloaded to Kindle and will wrap my ageing brain round it later. Reminds me of the second philosophy book I read all the way through - Gilbert Ryle's The Concept of Mind (1949), which dismissed the mind as a philosophical delusion or "category mistake". It was considered a classic in my day (might still be). I felt really depressed and worried by his dreary reductionism until I read his attempts to explain how dreams are nothing more than a disposition to act - and then I burst out laughing at the sheer silliness of his views, and a weight lifted from my shoulders (and from my mind). The very distinguished old boy came to give us a talk once, and the first question afterwards was about dreams - and he still hadn't figured out how to deal with the pesky things. Anyway, you've started me thinking, and that's a mindless sport-filled Sunday buggered. I blame you for this.

    Meanwhile, Koscisusko - took me a moment to realise where I'd heard that name - Bobbie Gentry's "Okolona River Bottom Band", only I didn't know how it was spelt until now. Thank you - you're instantly forgiven for fritzing my brain with philosophical conjectures.

    1. This is what happens when there's no Alabama v. LSU or Florida v. SEC football...this is what happens. We've got six months.

      Bobbie Gentry is a great one for mining the area. She's from Greenwood...which is across the interstate from where I was in Leflore County...which is named after the man who established French Camp. I cross the Tallehatchie River all the time.

    2. Just don't let anyone see you throwing something off the bridge.

    3. Is that a dare?

      I'll be up there next week.

    4. Is Kosciusko named after the Polish explorer? There's a mountain named after him here and Australians pronounce it Mount "Kozyosko", which irritates me more than it has any right to.

    5. It's named after the Polish general who helped during the American War of Independence...maybe a relation or was he also an explorer?

      We say Coz-eee-ess-co...and it is the home of Charlie Musselwhite and Oprah Winfrey.

  3. Hey man hows things good post, im sure I will work out some clever in-depth reply, but for now its a gday from over the big ditch.

    1. I was wondering when you show up. Good to see you round.

      Things are well thank you...hope they are with you as well.

  4. I've been wrist-deep in questions of consciousness for the last couple of weeks because of persistent disagreements with the F-word over that qualifies as it. I get annoyed at the way goal-posts get perpetually changed in terms of testing for it in other species, which is probably one of the more arrogant things humans do, and the definition of innate knowledge or ability as something outside of consciousness, as though "instinct" turns a creature into an automaton. Walking in humans is "instinctual" but the apparent degree of "consciousness" that Godzilla has put into it over the last six months or so . . . anyways. I think distrust of consciousness' miraculous qualities during an empirical age is what aids so many things being "written off" as instinctual or genetic as though aspects of consciousness being innate or having physical mechanisms makes it less fucking astounding.

    1. I couldn't agree more...with the last part.

      I get weary sometimes of the epistemological arrogance of positivists. Science is awesome for what science long as I don't have to actually do science and can just read about it...I love it but, it sucks at what it can't do.

      I'm not privy to what F-word's been up to...other than it seems to have been wearing you out for a little while now.

    2. Oh, he's fine. These are the ongoing gentlepersons' disagreements that keep us amused during long drives and make our relationship interesting even when we're wearing clothes. He did engage in a little ball breaking recently but he's fixed everything now, and who could ask for more?

      Positivism is fine as far as it goes, if your time is short and the degree that you care about "why" questions versus "how" questions is totally unbalanced. The only way positivism can address "why" questions is by saying they aren't worth asking and that is absolutely (and empirically FWIW) contrary to our nature.

    3. I think it's also important to remember, as the discussions and articles above demonstrate there are How questions it can't answer.

      That matters beyond how we want to perceive the world...and gets to the heart of what the world IS.

      In other words, F-word is just a man trying to navigate and make peace with the fact that he can't live without the company of a's not an easy task.

      :) Ducks

  5. There's nothing I can say that wouldn't be reductively rude about your whole needy, needy gender so I'll just send my sympathies to your lady wife.

    1. I just opened a fortune cookie from supper. It says...

      "Always be smart. Never eat dumb."

      I don't know what that means and suspect it's the result of a computer glitch at the factory but, I'm gonna take it as a sign to stop typing before I get myself in trouble.