Posts Tagged ‘Meaning’

The Great Pretender

March 11, 2015

The last thing political rivalry admits to is identity; that there is no difference. Differentiating grounds, no, founds political discourse in the US, grants it legitimacy. Currently, it is to the extent of deep polarization (civil war is being insinuated/rumored to be OK). The relationship/necessity of politics to govern, and whether these are good or bad, are precluded by the interests of this blog. Ditto the relationship/necessity of governance to society (who speaks of society without governance?). Making pretensions to difference seems to permeate the popular news coverage of late, especially that of politics and government. In an ancient tome entitled “The Imaginary Institution of Society” (original French 1975) Cornelius Castoriadis identifies “legein” and “teukhein”, with their intimate entwining, as integral to the institution of society. Crassly and coarsely put “legein” is determining or designating (language) while “teukhein” is making or doing. Immediately their interconnection jumps out in that designating is a making or doing through differentiating/identity (What Castoriadis describes as ensemblist-indentity logic or thinking; i.e. designating this grouping of a set as same, ditto it will differentiate the designated grouping from the rest of the set, thereby in turn determining an “other” than the same). Language determines. Yet since it is all we’ve got, it also can be used to conceal or deny (itself a kind of making or doing). One example of this elision or denial of instituting (while actually actively doing just that) can be found in the ostensible differentiation of the two major parties in US national governance, the culture wars, the future of America as we know it (and maybe civilization itself!), etc. The US President Barack Obama is chastised for being unwilling to determine or designate religious based violence/terrorism by describing it as, well, religious, and the Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, authorizes state agencies to not utilize or reference the designation or determination of “climate change” (Science being considered as “secular.” And you always thought religion and science were different, didn’t you?). Religious grounds for making or doing are separated/differentiated from secular ones through the designation/determination of language. During the years of bloodshed in Northern Ireland, the IRA was never referenced as Roman Catholic terrorism. Such differentiation, the originally all too human institution of both (that which creates identity), is conveniently hidden, denied, elided or mystified. By actively attempting to “make” or “do” a differentiation of governing as human instituting and science being about something “not so” (humanly instituted) Governor Scott maintains the hidden, denied, elided or mystified aspect (of science, that it is humanly instituted). In “Pandora’s Hope” (1995) Bruno Latour repeatedly recounts and specifies the political intrigue and machinations of Louis Pasteur’s designation/determination of bacteria. That is, the science was a human institution. Like the US President, the Florida Governor wants to keep something hidden and unsaid while promoting a making or doing through identity with what can be said or revealed. The President elides the very human institution of religion through his determination/designation of terrorism (No Roman Catholic terrorists for him! Through his making or doing he affirms the mystifying aspect of religion’s political influence). The Governor elides admitting the very human institution of science through his designation/determination of state agency protocol (wherebye in actuality his making or doing affirms what Latour pointed out as the politics involved with the institution of science). This elision by both political rivals indicates identity, not difference.

That Is A Happy Person

January 1, 2014

Various online news sources carried a report by Finnish researchers regarding how the human body (overall) feels different emotional states. Study participants were asked to rate how, and which parts of the body were affected (or disaffected) by different emotions. These plus or minus indicators of feeling were then mapped unto a color chart (deep blue max minus feeling to light yellow max plus feeling). The composite of statistically arrived at color indicators were then projected unto silhouettes of a figure so that a primarily darkened figure would be neutral, and various colored combinations would appear under a heading like fear, anxiety, etc. One report focused attention on the bodily “feel” of love, which appears to have the greatest max plus concentration, primarily in the torso and head (with the feet appearing deep blue!). Happiness, shown positively lighting up the entire body, was unmentioned by any report.

It is with trepidation that one chooses to speak or write about happiness, let alone a happy person. Zhuangzi (also previously known as Chuang Tzu, etc.) appears to hold top honors when it comes to producing a justification of third person knowledge of this subject with his The Joy Of Fishes. Comparing Yo Yo Ma (in performance) with a fish definitely stretches reader imagination (as well as credibility). Yet Yo Yo Ma, performing in concert or solo, appears to be a very happy person. “That is a happy person” would be met by a totally different response than “He’s a great musician” or “That was an amazing performance.” To say “That is a happy person” is to point out two things – the person, and something about the person (that happiness gathers there). The first seems ordinary enough, but what makes for the second affirmation (something Zhuangzi so eloquently addresses)? “That is a happy person” now becomes something other than a statement of fact.

Although Wittgenstein reminds us that “nothing has so far been done when a thing has been named” (The Literary Wittgenstein, ed. John Gibson and Wofgang Huemer 2004, pg.19), many would still claim that Yo Yo Ma is a celebrity, on stage, performing (as an actor), or that he has been gifted with his talent, position, or even that he is recompensed handsomely. How so that it can be said “That is a happy person”?

Without addressing The Joy Of Fishes (but rather the joy of Shakespeare), Stanley Cavell writes, “My idea is that, in varying ways, each of these sensibilities is one whom Shakespeare’s posing of the skeptical problem of the existence of others takes the form of raising the possibility of praise, of finding an object worthy of praise, and proving oneself capable of it.” (Philosophy The Day After Tomorrow Stanley Cavell, 2005, pg. 37) For Cavell, skepticism involves not only the “stuff” out there (and whether I can know it, if it exists, etc.) but also the psyche – other people or minds. With Cavell, part of the utterance of praising or cursing is the acknowledgement of this other. But how does this differ from naming, that is, that what is said becomes simply a kind of title for the person praised or cursed? The “possibility”, “worth’ and capability are considered, along with false praise (idolatry or iconoclasm), primarily in terms of acknowledgement of the other. Little concern is given for the actual attribute of the praise. Maybe that lies with the false praise, but it would be difficult to imagine someone who has never known happiness to say “That is a happy person.” Unless “That person exists” is interpreted as a performative utterance of praise or cursing (acknowledging existence), it appears that what is attributed as praise worthy is likewise acknowledged as existing. Saying “that is a happy person” not only acknowledges the existence of the other, someone not me, but also that happiness gathers there. If praise (or cursing) acknowledges the existence of an other then it is equally as important to be able to elaborate the qualities or attributes in conjunction with that person (OK, for the Finnish researchers, emotions). That is, what goes to make that person a person. As Wittgenstein elaborates, nothing is accomplished by simply naming. Simply acknowledging lacks character, the character of what is acknowledged. Conjoining an attribute or quality with the designated person likewise acknowledges the existence of that attribute. “There is happiness.” Praise (or cursing) deals with skepticism in a twofold manner. Not only does it acknowledge the existence of the other, but also the existence of qualities and characteristics which we may not gather to ourselves (“possess”), may doubt, or perhaps are unsure of in our own reasoning (the everyday guise of skepticism). “That is a happy person” affirms not only the existence of the person, but of happiness.

It Makes One Think

November 17, 2013

Much to be recommended piece of writing by Peter Uwe Hohendahl entitled Progress Revisited: Adorno’s Dialogue with Augustine, Kant, and Benjamin that appears in the Autumn 2013 Critical Inquiry. The Noose That Is Knot may possess some rudimentary passing knowledge of sorts but can claim no expertise on any of these folks. The essay is incredibly well written and clear given the obvious complexity of the matter (that Adorno could author one outlook and an exception to this outlook less than 20 years later). The substance of the inquiry makes for its relevance to current time. With the 1944 Dialectic of Enlightenment came the possibility that the Enlightenment may have primarily been in the best interest of specific constitutionalities of the west. That it definitely was not in the best interest of human progress or a future to be anticipated by humankind. Later, in a 1962 essay entitled Progress, Adorno appears to take exception with that position.

Warhol’s “Good business is good art”, Madonna’s Material Girl, and Baudrillard have left us with pretty much a surface, if not a screen, as being all there is. “If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface: of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it.” (well, who else? Andy Warhol) Hohendahl suggests otherwise, not so much behind as beside. His interpretation of Adorno’s later essay is intriguing for contemporary raison d’etre. Jamie Dimon may rationalize for what is best for the country, the global economy, and even better for J.P. Morgan Chase in his private meetings with Eric Holder. It is always difficult to accept a separate justification for behavior or activity, a kind of exceptionalism. In a very oblique way, that is what Adorno proposes. Although not beside, he sets aside Benjamin’s recoiling horrified angel of history as well as Hegel’s (and Marx) “progression” of history. This questioning of universal history allows for the equal interrogation of what is best for man, mankind and the future. Enter Augustine and Kant with “best” (or the good) involving something besides reason (and scientific material progression). For Adorno, it is what contributes to the emancipation of the individual, all individuals; what produces and cultivates individual freedom. It is absolutely fascinating how this then opens the door for questions posed by Occupy, those concerned with global warming and the environment, GMO’s and sustainable living. Sustainable living would be the touchstone for this “other” interpretation of “progress”. Such an outlook then creates the veritable double speak that resistance to a materially or scientifically envisioned future (as progress) may be the only real progress. That resistance is the only hope for the future. It makes one think.

Deja Vu All Over Again

October 1, 2013

What serendipity! This blog’s annual anniversary re-posting of the very first essay coincides perfectly with the times. Makes one wonder…

“Last night I had a dream about reality”
October 25, 2009

Last night I had a dream about reality.

It was such a relief to wake up.

Stanislaw J. Lec

Last night I actually did have such a dream. It was as though a sentence had been imposed, a curse. The fellow in the dream was to live his life within the identical same context as his former had been, only without the history. In this case he was involved with some rural activity and found himself within a farming community where the various folk were identical to those he interacted with previously, only he had no historical handle, no myth with which to have a connection (i.e. a co worker was a different physical entity, yet the job and relationship were as before). His only connection to them, and they to him, was his function, their interaction. So while functioning with them, he couldn’t (or didn’t) animate them with any stories or background, no shared experiences or memories. The functioning and interaction was matter-of fact, with the all encompassing (enshrouding?) pall of “who are these people? What am I doing involved with them? Shouldn’t there be something more, something significant in our interaction?” Everything was done as it ought to be done, as it was meant to be done, by definition in terms of how things function, as though according to a mathematical description of a function. Yet it was likewise totally and completely meaningless. What more, to even ask that it have meaning was meaningless for there was no history, no myth with which to relate it to, connect it to, by which to reference it. People acted with each other, within the functions we have grown accustomed to, that are taken for granted, that we have all come to expect. Yet there was no reason to be had for any of it. What was even worse, there was nothing exchanged within the interaction; as though it is really history and myth that are all that can be exchanged, the only things possible or of value, the exchange of which constitute the only sustenance of meaning. It was such a relief to wake up.


September 26, 2013

There was a time when what something meant had all the world to do with why it was or was not used, included. Part of the aesthetic involved with any creative endeavor included meaning. Today it could be likened to layering. One layer was meaning, another maybe harmony or rhyme, another maybe the actual physical quality, like the sound or color. A creative endeavor included the visual and auditory arts. Oration likewise was included in this, classically stemming from its roots in rhetoric, the art of persuasion. Today the aesthetic is about what is immediate. With oration, it is go for the jugular; that is, determine which side of the polarity those you hope to persuade are on, and how far they are/can be polarized. There is now no place for subtle arguments, narratives or reasoning to modify conviction and belief. Nope, just materialize positions, reify ideology. This week Ted Cruz’s political theater staged a magnificent production of that contemporary aesthetic. Why green eggs and ham? Because I’ve always liked it. Why Hitler, Chamberlain and appeasement? Because it is about taking a stand. Never mind it is also about Monday morning armchair quarterbacking given that at THAT time, in THAT place, no one could have foreseen the future any more than in 2001 anyone would have guessed the US would still be at war in Afghanistan 12 years later. No matter, what is relevant is that meaning as one layer of an aesthetic presentation, be it oratory or video, is of no consequence (all brings to mind George W. Bush’s infamous “So what?” reply to a question about meaningful facts). The end, the outcome is all that matters within the current aesthetic (how much box office was made on the opening week end, whether you have “won” the red states or blue states, whether your stint at American idol resulted in recording and appearance contracts, etc.). Eloquence in the arts has been displaced by effectiveness in the polling.

Life Is Short

August 26, 2013

Life is short, so one should enjoy it. Life is short, so one should find meaning in it. These two admonitions create a certain tension. Much continental philosophy and aesthetic theory reflects this tension within their discourse. Enjoyment seems to be not enough for a satisfying aesthetic experience. Meaning, as the basis of action and philosophy, elides the mundane, the everyday, the material.

Karl Marx was born in 1818; Ralph Waldo Emerson 15 years earlier. Emerson died in 1882; Marx a year later (roughly as contemporary as Mick Jagger and Jon Bon Jovi). Charles Darwin was a fellow rock star (1809-1882). Both Marx and Emerson were influenced by Hegel and his writings, philosophy and approach. It is hard to believe that Darwin did not know of Hegel. Volumes have been written on these contemporaries. Nothing new here. Suffice to say Emerson evolved Hegel different than Marx. Marx threw out the “spirit” aspect of meaning and replaced it by what makes for meaning within the capitalist status quo of the time – material. Emerson, perhaps much more cognizant of actual human bondage (than Marx) because of his everyday experience of living in a land where humans were considered material within the capitalist status quo (could be bought, sold and treated legally as property), focused on the “spirit” aspect, but without necessarily discarding the material. We all think we know what is attributed to Marx re: religion, but no memory permeates today of Emerson’s disposition to material, what makes for physical experience.

Capitalism’s emphasis on the material as fundamental to value (and meaning) differs little from Marx’s emphasis on the material as fundamental to value and meaning. The how’s and the why’s may differ but the material as foundational does not. Materialism determines value and meaning with either. In that they are brothers. Within continental philosophy this fraternal relationship seems to surface and reify with the thought and production of Guy DeBord and his Society of the Spectacle. The ultimate evolution of this affinity of meaning and value is found with Baudrillard’s writing on our culture, and simulacra (with regard to the values and meaning of materialism expressed as such). Emerson finds meaning and value with what is not tangible. Within his writing he advocates that what is not tangible has a bearing on the conduct of life and the determination of meaning. Early within his essay “The Poet” he writes “The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression.” (again the Hegelian influence?). From DeBord and Baudrillard we associate expression today with material – material presence and the material being that accompanies “having”. Even the meaning and value of words and language changes within the hegemony of materialism. Emerson is also known for having been a poet, part of his appreciation and valorization of language (in a Marxist sense?). Language as material, maybe not, but as a material (sensual) experience, for sure, for sure. And therein lies the separation from the tension of continental philosophy, of meaning and enjoyment. For Emerson, to enjoy produces meaning. Within the materialist disposition (capitalist or socialist), the meaning that is material (that material “is”) does not necessarily correlate with or produce enjoyment (Jay Leno may have a lot of “stuff”, but is that what brings joy to his life?). Life is short. One should enjoy it as that is the only way to find meaning within the short span. But what brings joy? For Emerson, this was a (and “the”) philosophic question, something to be considered critically. It would be presumptuous (and flippant) to give the knee jerk answer as a distraction, past time, religious conviction or addiction. Joy for Emerson isn’t automatic, predetermined or guaranteed, but rather involves the half of a person that is not “his expression.”

The Good

August 9, 2013

Recollection returns the admiration Dr. Tew expressed for the single, solitary bee during some long ago assembly of Ohio beekeepers. He was awestruck that this individual would exit the colony where there is the support of her fellows, and the safety of numbers, to fly off into the great unknown. I guess it stuck with me by the way he presented it, rather analytically from a scientist’s perspective – someone who has spent his life studying bees. We tend to knee jerk anthropomorphize anything not “like us”. Forgotten is that butterflies, bees and other insects don’t “know” what is out there. Off they go into the very, and always, immediate unknown.
My neighbor is not right. No, not in an argumentative sense, rather he has been unlike his fellows in thought, behavior, and socialization since birth. Today I guess he would be described as challenged, or severely disabled though he gets around and lives alone. Many of us who live around him would describe him as a pain since it is almost impossible to communicate with him. He demands, and if the demand is not met, he curses loudly and vehemently (disabilities are not always as portrayed by Hollywood). Of late he has deemed himself to be our self-appointed evangelist. Have you gone to church? No matter what the response, he condemns you to hell (perhaps he’s lonely?). The latest is asking what is written on a piece of paper in his hand (which the committed do-gooder is more than willing to read for what he believes to be an illiterate. Not!). The scrawl spells “dread”, and of course, a sermon on going to hell with a veritable Whitman’s Sampler of assorted gospel invectives follows.
In The Gleam Of Light: Moral Perfectionism and Education in Dewey and Emerson (2005) Naoko Saito tries to show the close connection between Dewey and Emerson, through some of the writing on this matter by Stanley Cavell (who considers the opposite). Emerson’s influence appears in Dewey’s early work and then in his later writings according to Saito. She addresses a major criticism of Dewey in a chapter entitled The Gleam of Light Lost: Transcending the Tragic with Dewy after Emerson, something both Emerson and Cavell address and wrestle with but Dewey is considered to have elided (all problems can be solved through a sound pragmatic approach). Curious insights that speak to our time arise out of the considerations of these various thinkers that Naoko brings together. Emerson (and then later Dewey) mourns/bemoans the “lost individual”, asleep to the life within/without ( Shades of the unexamined life is not worth living!). The emphasis with Emerson, and later through Saito’s interpretation of Dewey, is on setting forth, struggling to create/achieve meaning, to learn, to grow. Of course, no apparent end is given for all this setting forth, learning and growing. In contemporary times, this has been perverted as “process” – i.e. process art, or “the learning process”, etc. (but not processed food). The “process” has become the end (something Saito points out is NOT the case by referencing the role and place of imagination with morality in both the writings of Emerson and Dewey). Saito works hard to stress the difference between the valorization of today’s “process” and the role or place of struggle, setting forth, growth, etc. with Emerson, et al. She writes: “[T]he good is anything but guaranteed in advance; it is to be created ahead, as “consequences” in the future, or as Cavell says, proven only on the way. Potentiality is not “a category of existence” that is being unfolded. Instead, “potentialities cannot be known till after the interactions have occurred” in terms of “consequences”” (pg. 116).
And so the bee returns to the hive loaded down with pollen and a gut full of nectar after her adventure in the great unknown. Its fellows will be nourished by this contribution achieved with such great effort and peril. The future of the colony will be determined by this struggle with what it knows not. I think this is what Saito is pointing at. The scrawl of today, held up with any considerations of democracy, education or growth (taken in whatever sense), spells out “dread”. Forgotten is that a known outcome, a machine determined inevitability is not exactly how things happen. “The good is anything but guaranteed in advance; it is to be created ahead, as “consequences” in the future, or as Cavell says, proven only on the way.”

Pepsi And Peaches

July 7, 2013

The 4th of July holiday week has just passed. It would have been difficult for someone to not notice the special offer ads run by the local mega food retailers, “4 twelve packs of Pepsi for $10” (with membership at Kroger or Giant Eagle. Walmart will match any advertised price brought in with ad). Over the weekend I noticed several farmer’s market produce stands offering a carton of 4 gorgeous peaches for $5. You don’t need Karl Rove to help you do the equation: eight peaches equal forty eight 12 oz. cans of Pepsi (576 ounces of refreshment). Let that sink in for a moment. OK, time’s up! What springs to mind? Oh yeah, labor costs. We all know the capitalist alibi: labor costs drive prices up, eventually putting either jobs or the enterprise that sells the product out of work. The formula is simple and drilled into every sixth grader with their lessons on how to count (no, not the ABC’s kind but how to count money, usually other people’s money). So Pepsi will stay in business and grow, and eventually peaches will, well, disappear. Pepsi will do so by keeping production costs down (and some other unmentionables). This is where the sixth graders are left in the dark. Pepsi will keep its costs down by relying on automation to eliminate its labor (and some other unmentionables). More automated systems equals less human labor costs. In doing so Pepsi will be called a “jobs creator” when it opens or renovates a new production facility that will be more “cost effective” (automated) than the previous. As a “jobs creator” it will be entitled to real estate tax credits, income tax cuts, as well as other “community development” benefits and perks. Peaches, on the other hand, are a totally different economy. Initial start-up investment is substantial, competition with land values as well as continuous reliance on weather and environment, coupled with heavy reliance on human labor make it a primitive economic model for success. Although real people will really be working, it will not qualify as a “jobs creator” (unless it is subsidized and subsumed within some other unmentionables). In the end it relies on growth, but not the economic kind.

Over the weekend PBS televised what looked to be an archived edition of The Human Parade with Jay Nordinger interviewing Jeb Bush. No matter. Governor Bush came off very presidential. His promotion of the conservative economic agenda was totally patriotic. He aspired to create success for America, and Americans. He lauded Marco Rubio for being willing to promote the reduction/elimination of Social Security and elimination/reduction of other social welfare programs (subsidized unmentionables). Also he presented a “how” on immigration: along with securing the borders, allow immediate citizenship for PHD’s entering the country as well as hard working entrepreneurs (NOT the hungry huddled masses yearning to be free, but those arriving with lots of capital- like Rupert Murdoch). This is where the sixth grade symposium on counting doesn’t do those who made it to the seventh grade much good. Weird news coming out of the various government and non-government bean counters: higher education costs are getting, well, higher. Those graduating are either unemployed or having to settle for work that is way below their degree capacity, i.e. Master’s doing minimum high school degree level work, etc. America currently has a lot of well-educated folks (who owe an awful lot of money for getting that degree). Karl Rove math aside, success for America might mean including them. But that brings us back to Pepsi and peaches. Just what does success mean if Americans are insecure in their old age and retirement, if Americans cannot afford to admit to themselves (or others) that they are ill or injured, if education is considered a supplement to learning how to count (other people’s money), and if, when hungry, most Americans will need to choose Pepsi over peaches?


May 11, 2013

Recent events continuously in the news brought Antigone to mind. “We’re better than that, aren’t we?” The jury is out on that and well it should be for western culture has maintained many of the same funerary dispositions prevalent at the time of Sophocles. Being one of “them” and having threatened “us” justifies Creon’s decree in the hearts of many.

“In a Critical Inquiry essay (The Idle Idol, or Why Abstract Art Ended Up Looking Like A Chinese Room) Robert Morris stumbles along, page after page considering theoretical explanations for the state of abstract art today (Morris has taken to making outdoor labyrinths). The last two pages are memorable. Here he dispenses with theory (though he knows that what he writes is still theory). He describes what he considers to be the current art scene in the NYC area where he resides (the real reason for the state of abstract art today). My own interpretation of his description would be that the scene is a group ethos without the “idol” of authorship. The individuals contribute to what is taking place within the group, with the entire group participating as well as experiencing (celebrating) the outcome ( the outcome being the participation or rather, the act of participating). Morris describes it as singing. Artists sometimes are curators or show organizers, and curators are considered as artists. There is a fluidity, a constant exchange and interaction with an emphasis on the connectivity of networking. It is curiously analogous to the chorus in ancient Greek tragedy (if you can stretch your imagination enough). It “sings” its art, its message, its ideas, etc. But there is no claim to individual ownership or origin. It is in a communal sense (much as the chorus embodies the community within Greek tragedy) with a heavy emphasis on networking and belonging (which can only be done by actively singing; singing along with everyone else, not counter, questioning or critiquing, but going with the flow). To sing with the chorus is to go with the flow, one way only. The chorus is univocal though it may be polyglot.” (this blog’s December 2009 post entitled Making The Signifier)

Antigone does not sing with the chorus.

Creon’s decree also encompasses memory and memorials. Brief and eerie glimpses of our un-advertised, un-celebrated selves tacitly materialize. Charon is to ferry Sandy Hook Elementary to the nether world to join the Kent State shooting site along with oh so many other tragedies by disappearing, “getting paved over” so that life can go on without the memory being indexed to any concrete material. In many parts of the world the tragedy itself is precisely memorialized by the preservation of just such material — the destruction, the trace, the residue of wrong. Here we want it to disappear, for a return to a normalcy that denies aberration, relegates it to a “them, they or those”, putting it outside the distribution of sense (for the abomination was so sense-less). Ai Wei Wei’s 5,000 names of children buried under earthquake rubble or Maya Lin’s list of names only half buried under the earth defy Creon’s convenient and easy bifurcation of what is to remain of Eteocles and Polyneices.

Not Depressed Enough Yet

March 29, 2013

Sonny Klimczyk is a musician, singer, songwriter in Zanesville Ohio, and a good one. Some folks find his songs a bit on the down side which makes him laugh. He feels that’s when he composes some of his best music. Recently, when he was performing, I asked if he had created any new ones. “No. I guess I haven’t been depressed enough yet.”
This week package bees arrived and folks were picking them up. The lady at the order confirmation table was shivering so bad she could barely write legibly. For those in the know, the bees needed to be hived under winter time conditions since it was cold and windy with occasional snow squalls. Writing to a friend about the experience I found myself saying “It all starts again, only without the sense of end. That also seems to make all the difference in the world.” The news that continues to come in regarding bees has not at all been very hopeful.
Vandana Shiva describes three economies – the business economy of “the market” and capital, nature’s economy of ecology, and the people’s economy of sustenance. The economy of ecology is described as nature’s economy – the cycle of water to clouds to rain, or of water filtering through the earth in order to be clean and sweet to drink, the composting process of dead and waste becoming nutrient for what lives, sheds waste and eventually dies, etc. This economy has no end but is continuous on account of its connectivity. This time of year people with a spiritual orientation, self-described as “religious”, celebrate the paradox of end and beginning. Philosophers would call this “making a cut”; to elaborate a break in order to give meaning to what is otherwise continuous, indescribable, without apparent start or stop. I guess the difference comes in when you take “the cut” literally, actually claiming and believing that what is in perpetual process without dependence on human agency begins or, just as well, has an end. To not be able to identify such a beginning or end is depressing for many of these folks. They would consider such an outlook of not being able to point at a beginning or end to be an expression of negativity or despair, neither of which is embraced by those with a religious partiality. The ecological economy has no end. It will continue whether there is a specifically human witness or not. The business economy is driven by and comprised of an end. It is not without human agency. To depreciate the business economy in order to appreciate the ecological economy would be depressing to a lot of folks. Right now, the scientific evidence seems to be mounting up overwhelmingly that the economy of business is drastically altering the economy of nature. I guess we’re just not “depressed enough yet” to compose a new outlook. To do that would require making a “cut”, admitting an end in order for there to be a new beginning; something that many are not exactly ready to celebrate this time of year.