Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Wednesday, June 25, 2003day link 

Each morning is the open door to a new world - new vistas, new aims, new plans, new thoughts...and whether one is twenty, forty, sixty, or eighty; whether one has succeeded, failed or just muddled along - life begins each morning! - L. M. Hodges

[ | 2003-06-25 02:15 | 1 comment | PermaLink ]  More >

 Views of the self
jewel mentions an article from The Guardian, which talks in part about the differences in world views between U.S. warlords and the people who live in a place like Iraq.
"Whatever its immediate apparent outcome, the war on Iraq represents a catastrophic breakdown of the British and American imagination. Weve utterly failed to comprehend the character of the people whose lands we have invaded, and for that were likely to find ourselves paying a price beside which the body-count on both sides in the Iraqi conflict will seem trifling. Passionate ideologues are incurious by nature and have no time for obstructive details. Its impossible to think of Paul Wolfowitz curling up for the evening with Edward Saids Orientalism, or the novels of Naguib Mahfouz, or Seven Pillars of Wisdom, or the letters of Gertrude Bell, or the recently published, knotty, often opaque, but useful book by Lawrence Rosen, The Culture of Islam, based on Rosens anthropological fieldwork in Morocco, or Sayyid Qutbs Milestones. Yet these, and a dozen other titles, should have been required reading for anyone setting out on such an ambitious liberal-imperial project to inflict freedom and democracy by force on the Arab world. The single most important thing that Wolfowitz might have learned is that in Arabia, words like "self", "community,""brotherhood" and "nation" do not mean what he believes them to mean. When the deputy secretary of defence thinks of his own self, he - like me, and, probably, like you - envisages an interiorised, secret entity whose true workings are hidden from public view. Masks, roles, personae (like being deputy secretary for defence) mediate between this inner self and the other people with whom it comes into contact. The post-Enlightenment, post-Romantic self, with its autonomous subjective world, is a western construct, and quite different from the self as it is conceived in Islam. Muslims put an overwhelming stress on the idea of the individual as a social being. The self exists as the sum of its interactions with others. Rosen puts it like this: "The configuration of ones bonds of obligation define who a person is . . . the self is not an artefact of interior construction but an unavoidably public act...."
Now, that is interesting. A totally different perception of what the self is. Not only are we talking different circumstances, different history, different culture, but there's a different definition of what the self is, what society is, what the world is. And, yes, people making big foreign policy decisions, and considering changing the course of other countries, should be absolute experts in all of that.
[ | 2003-06-25 16:00 | 2 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Information Transparency
Jon Husband quotes from an excellent article by William Gibson (Neuromancer, etc) in NY Times. It is in part reflections on Orwell and 1984 and where we're at today.
"Elsewhere, driven by the acceleration of computing power and connectivity and the simultaneous development of surveillance systems and tracking technologies, we are approaching a theoretical state of absolute informational transparency, one in which "Orwellian" scrutiny is no longer a strictly hierarchical, top-down activity, but to some extent a democratized one. As individuals steadily lose degrees of privacy, so, too, do corporations and states. Loss of traditional privacies may seem in the short term to be driven by issues of national security, but this may prove in time to have been intrinsic to the nature of ubiquitous information."
I think he's right. In the long run the transparency of information will be a democratizing force. And this piece here makes me outright start rubbing my hands in glee:
"In the age of the leak and the blog, of evidence extraction and link discovery, truths will either out or be outed, later if not sooner. This is something I would bring to the attention of every diplomat, politician and corporate leader: the future, eventually, will find you out. The future, wielding unimaginable tools of transparency, will have its way with you. In the end, you will be seen to have done that which you did."
Heheh. So, you might as well start doing what you ought to be doing right now, rather than what merely looks good on the surface. Because eventually it will all be abundantly clear, and your legacy will be the truth about you, not your corporate brochures or your campaign speeches or your double-speak.
[ | 2003-06-25 16:27 | 1 comment | PermaLink ]  More >

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