Category Archives: Airing thoughts

Drafts of ideas I am thinking about, which might be useful to you too

How DARE the Russians and Iranians interfere in internal affairs!? Don’t they know that that’s our role? – A reminder of CIA (and SIS) foreign involvement

Today, Theresa May has joined trump in accusing Russia in secret programmes for destabilising Nato societies and interfering in free elections. Concerning indeed! But both leaders have refrained from comiting not to do the same in other societies that democratically elect a leadership that the US and the UK disfavors, as they have done in the past.

A brief reminder of historical episodes like Syria (1949),  Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Brazil,  Chile, Guyana, Nicaragua, Libya, and many more, some of which are still concealed under the guise of security and secrecy.

But for now, we can all start educating ourselves here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_involvement_in_regime_change

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_policy_of_the_United_States#Covert_actions

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_electoral_intervention

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Update on my numeral literacy hypothesis and a theater show recommendation

Last week, we watched Rashdash’s award winning show Two Men Show. I cannot recommend this show strongly enough! (Despite a redundant [and inaccurate] opening and various class issues). Its a powerful experience, phenomenal performance and extraordinary text. The show is about gender and [its] language and more, by a duo/trio that calls itself ‘radical feminist,’ but in my view, everything that is feminist today beyond liberalism is quickly titled radical, which is more telling about our misogynous time than about the radicality of the feminists. During most of the show, I was able to enjoy it as a comrade, sharing the criticism that was overall suggested about other types of masculinity. Yet, the feeling that it is not about me did not last to the end of the show (no spoilers), and I have then enjoyed discovering another layer of masculine dominance populating my subjectivity.

Anyway, the reason why I decided to write about the show was not (only) to recommend it and Rashdash generally, but also because of something entirely different. A while ago I wrote a hypothesis about how literacy, prevalence and dominance of numbers and digits have changed and design our ways of thinking. Well, in a discussion after the show, the artists mentioned the book The Alphabet versus The Goddess, as influential to their work. In the the book, anthropologist Leonarad Shlain has made similar – but more gendered – arguments about how alphabetic literacy has changed our thinking from holistic and feminine ways into textual-lexomatic-iconic-linear and masculine thought. So I just wanted to leave an update on this thread.

 

Is transgederism liberal?

Notes about transsexuality, Palestinian-hybridity, and subjectivity in liberalism

 

1) Is transgederism humanist/liberal?

According to one typical narrative of ‘trans people,’ certain individuals ‘have always known that they were a man/woman locked in the wrong body.’ (By the way, the following analysis is equally true for cisgenders, who also, albeit silently, ‘know’ that they are inside the correct body). This narrative is anti-queer in its acceptance of normative definitiveness of categories of sex (men/women) and gender (masculine/feminine), as well as their respective alliance.

More importantly, such narratives assume that a subject can rise above a gender-sex ‘mistake,’ listen to one’s body (neutralisation), ‘know it,’ t and then want to, or demand to, or actually correct it, at ‘will.’ In this way, gender is ‘chosen’ or ‘sensed’ by an individual, and is not a latent social discursive structure (unlike race or class). Put another way, to say that you ‘have always known your true identity’ is a practice that reproduces subjectivity (against the poststructuralist view that subjectivity is created by discourse, and that individuality is a concept that in itself needs to be critically contextualised with socio-political-cultural-historical context(s)). The above narrative is arguably part of the naturalised liberalist zeitgeist that foster it, where individual’s agency is exaggerated.

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OMG! So, America is racist, misogynist and divided by class? Who would have thought!?…

‘Lower classes of First World countries are forcing their national elites and establishments to secure financial and other resources and advantages, which are now also sometimes depleting (e.g. pensions), along national lines, so that they are available for them over the even-lower “migrants” and refugees from less-privileged places.’

Read here: Thoughts about Trump-ism in the UK, US, Israel and globally 

 

A theology of the social

Analysing society and culture is religious.

This is the argument that this text advances towards.

1) Agent-sturcture

One way to visit the religious within sociology is through (one of) the most enduring problem(s) of (macro) sociology in all times; the agent-structure problem.

Simply put, it’s a chicken and egg type of problem: do individuals’ practices form a/the social structure, or does the social structure constrain and explain human practices. And consequently, to what extent do individuals have, if at all, the ability (agency) to act independently of anything ‘social’ (e.g. social structure, social capital, social location, social conditions, etc.).

Most sociologists would surely join me in saying that there is insurmountable ‘evidence’ for the significant ways in which social structure is limiting our actions, which in turn reproduce it. Whichever categories we use to ‘feel out’ the social structure (e.g. class, gender, race/ethnicity, time, nature/environment, etc.), the conclusion remains that thoughts, practices, prospects and so on – are powerfully constrained by (and overall reproduce) the existing norms, practices, statuses, discourses… you name it.
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Homo numeralous: Decimal literacy and modern everyday digit normalcy

What does it mean that we are living in a ‘digital age‘? Yes, ‘digital’ is often a synecdoche that refers to ‘computrised,’ in the same way that ‘technology’ came to be denote ‘electronic/computrised technology’ and ‘media’ often means ‘news-/electronic/broadcast media.’ But I argue that there is something profound in calling our age ‘digital.’ In making digits the hallmark/emblem of an era.

The other morning I observed digits in my morning commute.

I left my house number #, about # minutes before #:## which leftme enough time to catch the ### bus. I bought a ticket for # days starting from the date ######, for £##.##. The woman behind me bought # tickets and paid £#, which gave her the change of £#.##, (a simple mathematic operation that everybody now knows to make). She did not pay for # children who were under # years old. I sat in the front seat and noticed the various numbers written on the bus. There was a telephone number, a fleet number, numbers of approved units (passengers and weight), percentage of lights, and so on. My ticket hosted so many more numbers, of bus, time, driver and ticket, and on the driver’s radio they spoke about road number ## and a value-numbered speed, not too far from the legal number-value.

Looking at my smartphone, I keyed in a code made of a number of digits. Then, on the top appeared various numbers representing the quantified temperature, time and percentage of battery. Below were other numbers indicating the notifications I had pending over each application’s icon. Of course, I could also then call, or text, or listen to the radio, look at the calendar, calculate distances or calories or currencies, or log in to my bank account – all with a small number of numbers. But I read the news, that reported on # percent (or points) in politics, some percentage and numbers in ‘the economy,’ wether, dates, various statistics, and numbers of comments. All entries were numbered and dated too.

Try it, see if i’m exaggerating. Look carefully around you and at your phone screen and see how many different numbers talk to you. These numbers are invasive. They order (e.g. house numbers), count (notifications), name (code, bus line, or telephone numbers), calculate (cost change), quantify (like dates, time, weight, % or °). You get the point. These ten digits are everywhere. Start noticing them.

The numbersociety is the result the ‘democratisation of math,’ the popularisation of numeral (and decimal) literacy. But what would be challenging now is to think about numbers through technological determinism, as a technology, a device, that has come to shape more than science or math, that organises knowledge/sense in the broadest sense. That we don’t only use numbers to think, but that we think numbers, or think numerally, period. That to think is to number/enumerate and the other way around.

Put differently, I suggest the hypothesis that this ‘numbercy’ is not meaningless, but that numbers literacy in particular brought an epochal global order, or a shared language, that affects thought and languages in latent ways, and which work closely together with, and maybe even operates, the ambition for rationality, effectivity, ‘factuality,’ (fake-)accuracy, modernity (or supermodernity/liquid modernity/late-modernity), meritocracy, marketism, etc. In other words, that it is not only that the number regime holds a quantifying logic to our contemporary everyday life, but that perhaps it also templates what and how we think about non-numbered things.

We may have never been modern, as Latour suggests, but numbers were already always there to help us think about/through our modernity ideal, in ways that can suit other Latourian thoughts (or Knorr-Cetina-ian) on how non-human things (in this case, abstract) are part of society. Like modernity is the true end of hisotry, numeral mechanisms represent eternity: with 10 digits alone we can practically touch infinity, in a flawless – yet hypothetical- system. Any mathematics and every history must always be thought through a stable irreplaceable comprehensive global omnipresent meta system, or doxa, that adjusts, includes and consumes everything.

Everything is supposedly measurable, or calculable, or orderly (with the exception of the random naming-numbers, and we also have the potency to know when it is which). We are informed by these quantifiable notion myths, which in actuality are only approximations (because there is no such thing as ‘accurate’ in the ‘accurate sciences,’ as all empirical measurements are approximations of ideals). Thus, numbers are an emblem of the false accuracy, just like our modernity.

Now, can we think of a world without numbers? Can we think of the world, not through numbers? Is there anything innumerable? Can you evaluate them without numbers?