RE: OFFTOPIC:Re: [unrev-II] Fwd: Re: [PORT-L] Comments On Terrorist Attacks

From: Gil Regev (gil.regev@epfl.ch)
Date: Thu Sep 13 2001 - 01:58:47 PDT

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    Doug's vision also rests on the principle of co-evolution of humans and
    technology.
    In the last couple of hundred years technology has been evolving much faster
    than humans have.
    This partly explains why the last century was the bloodiest in human history
    and, since we're saying that technology evolution is accelerating, who knows
    what the present century is going to be.

    Also, what we have seen Tuesday can be somewhat explained as the
    non-co-evolution of two cultures (I'm not doing any assumption on what the
    second culture is). I think that bonds of trust between cultures need a
    co-evolution of these cultures. Communication can be used to serve the
    purpose of co-evolution but it is not enough in itself because communication
    can be negative as in Tuesday's "message". Co-evolution probably implies
    collaboration which means that there is some shared objective. This notion
    of shared objective is missing from communication which can be used to serve
    the objective of one of the parties instead of the whole. When we have
    common objectives we can not eliminate the other party or make it suffer
    because it is a partner. So maybe a good question is, can we agree on common
    objectives?

    Gil
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Jack Park [mailto:jackpark@thinkalong.com]
      Sent: mercredi, 12. septembre 2001 21:59
      To: unrev-II@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: OFFTOPIC:Re: [unrev-II] Fwd: Re: [PORT-L] Comments On
    Terrorist Attacks

      Peter,
      Your post responds precisely to the vision I had when I forwarded the PORT
      discussion; you have just outlined the primary reason that I take interest
      in promoting the values espoused in Douglas Engelbart's vision: those
      values are would promote the kinds of communication necessary to form the
      bonds of trust you outline.

      Jack
      At 08:30 PM 9/12/2001 +0100, you wrote:
    >My last post on this topic, because it [the atrocity] is so far removed
    from
    >the unrev feelgood factor.
    >
    >Yes, it was an attack on symbols, with symbolic significance.
    >Yes, it has deep and far reaching meaning because so much of what the
    U.S.
    >is,
    >is iconography.
    >The terrorists struck at those U.S. values. No less.
    >It was iconoclastic.
    >
    >But underlying that is pure horror; a horror that is beyond icons, that
    has
    >only simple disgusting truth to it, that betrays facades, ferociously
    >exposes core human values, and unites all compassionate men in
    confrontation
    >with the blunt reality of the cold, fractured corpse.
    >
    >That the perpertrators would inflict this on the U.S. says to my mind
    that
    >they have seen this before, and that they (for reasons they clearly
    believe
    >intensely) see the U.S. as having been the root cause of that for them.
    >(Whether the U.S. really was or not doesn't matter at this juncture, only
    >that the mesh of symbolism is traced back to that origin for the
    >perpertrators; for that too is part of mesh.)
    >
    >As I see it, it's an attack that says quite clearly, "Your values are
    wrong,
    >in their aftermath we saw the truth, and now we return it all to you."
    >
    >One must also understand that many of the mores that the U.S. has
    >promulgated so forcefully in recent decades overhaul centuries-old values
    of
    >great sophistication in different cultures.
    >And even I am inclined to suggest that many new American media values are
    >shallow, fickle, trite and debasing, with no respect for awesome
    histories.
    >
    >It is certain that the attack was wrong, because it took human life.
    >
    >But it is also certain that the picture that America painted of itself
    led
    >the attackers there, however mistaken they perhaps were.
    >
    >That countries refused to be policed by the 'Western Democratic Alliance'
    is
    >no surprise to me.
    >They believe the 'policemen' are corrupt (and again is that because of a
    >self-portrait we painted?). It won't do any good to try overcoming that
    by
    >force, verbal or physical.
    >What is needed is the grounds for the trust that enables great
    friendships
    >and collaborations -- genuine respect, compassion, love, and true
    >generosity.
    >
    >Peter
    >
    >----- Original Message -----
    >From: "Jack Park" <jackpark@thinkalong.com>
    >To: <unrev-II@yahoogroups.com>
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2001 4:29 PM
    >Subject: [unrev-II] Fwd: Re: [PORT-L] Comments On Terrorist Attacks
    >
    >
    >On the PORT email list (I am currently unable to find the archives, so
    I'll
    >quote a bit here), Peter Becker wrote (in part):
    >"In my opinion the chain of causality starts in the States. Nothing can
    >be an excuse for what has happened but I fear that what has happened
    >will be an excuse for what might come now, if the States choose to
    >answer terror with more terror, not even noticing that they might be the
    >ones who started all this. Calling the Pentagon "a symbol of America's
    >ability and determination to project and defend democratic values" ([2])
    >is something that would be funny if it wouldn't be that serious."
    >
    >I responded with:
    >"I am wondering how the wizards of Peircian thinking actually cast
    today's
    >events. For me, it is perhaps an overly simple notion to lay the
    beginning
    >of the causal chain on the US. "
    >
    >Cliff Joslyn followed:
    >"Of course it is.
    >My thinking is as much cybernetic as semiotic, and what that tells you
    >is that no matter how good or true or accurate, casuality is but one
    >possible model constructed by us, the subjects, to explain our
    >world. It's not a "chain" of causality, but a multi-facetted web of
    >interacting linear and cyclic network components, which moreover have
    >a temporal horizon as arbitrarily far back into the past as one cares
    >to draws one's boundaries. Therefore, WHERE one draws one's boundaries
    >(e.g. the cockpit; the terrorist operatives; Bin-Laden (or whomever it
    >actually is); Saudi Arabian or Iraqui or Iranian policy since 1985;
    >the Taliban; Israeli policy since 1995, or since 1967, or since 1945;
    >the Soviet Afghan invasion; US policy since 1991 or since 1967 or
    >since 1945; the fall of the Ottoman empire following WW I; British
    >colonial history since 1850; the Crusades; Mohammed; Jesus; Moses; or
    >God for making the distribution of oil and people and temperate land
    >masses unequal across the planet or setting the melting point of steel
    >and the boiling point of Aviation A fuel) says SO MUCH MORE about
    >one's OWN perspective than about any OBJECTIVE truth of "causality".
    >So, Mr. Becker, while (despite working in the belly of the US
    >military-industrial complex) I'm the first to criticize my government
    >and my society for its arrogance and ruthlessness and evil, please try
    >to get some perspective on what you're saying. For better or worse, on
    >the order of 5,000, and perhaps as many as 10,000 or even 20,000,
    >Americans are tonight the victims of the greatest terrorist attack in
    >history, and the entire world is reeling. While certainly the overall
    >socio-political context, and America's role in that, is relevant, no
    >single, narrow historical analysis or fact can explain this, let alone
    >justify it."
    >
    >Here is what follows. I post this because I believe there is merit in
    >finding ways to look at information flow with an eye biased by the
    thinking
    >of C.S. Peirce.
    >
    > >X-Sender: "Jon Awbrey" <jawbrey@mail.oakland.edu>
    > >
    > >才~~~~~~~~才~~~~~~~~才~~~~~~~~才~~~~~~~~才~~~~~~~~
    > >
    > >Susan Awbrey wrote (SA):
    > >Cliff Joslyn wrote (CJ):
    > >Bob Rosenberg wrote (BR):
    > >
    > >SA: What the terrorists don't understand is that
    > > the meaning goes far deeper than its symbols.
    > >
    > >CJ: I agree: this is where semiotics can help us, understanding these
    as
    > > acts of COMMUNICATION. In that way, the terrorists are committing
    a
    > > referential fallacy, mistaking the symbol for the referrent, the
    map
    > > for the territory, the token for the sign function. Note that not
    > > just the buildings are symbols; from the terrorists perspective,
    > > the dead innocents also serve only as sign-vehicles, not as
    humans.
    > > Indeed, from Bin-Laden's (or whomever it really is) perspective,
    > > his own OPERATIVES are symbols. That's what martyrdom is,
    > > elevating a person to the level of a symbol.
    > >
    > >BR: A few years after Perry opened Japan to the West in 1853, some
    > >southern lords
    > > adopted the slogan, "Restore the emperor and sweep out the
    >barbarians."
    > > Samauri killed a number of merchants, burned their shops, and so
    on.
    > > Rebelled against the larger forces of Westernization, which they
    could
    > > not put their hands on, by destroying the people and structures
    that
    > > symbolized it. They restored the emperor (the Meiji Restoration)
    > > in a nominal way -- the Westernization obviously did not stop.
    > >
    > >BR: Does this sound familiar? I have a funny feeling
    > > there are a few other similar examples in history.
    > >
    > >In the spirit of examining self and other in the same image,
    > >Friend U and Enemy X in the same frame, we might return to
    > >Max Weber's 'Protestant Ethic & the Spirit of Capitalism' --
    > >he was not especially picking on Puritans and Capitalists
    > >but died before he could complete his survey of worldviews,
    > >economic, political, religious, whatever -- one of the most
    > >crucial points of what he noticed being the way that abstract
    > >symbols, detached from their humane context, can operate like
    > >viruses, parasitically living off and often turning against the
    > >substantial embodiments and the flowing lifeblood of meaning that
    > >served as their initial host, now a hulk to be cast away. I think
    > >that understanding the dynamics of this malfeasant conversion process
    > >might be a useful bit of knowledge in these times.
    > >
    > >Jon Awbrey
    > >

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