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

From: Henry K van Eyken (
Date: Thu Sep 13 2001 - 05:26:45 PDT

  • Next message: Gil Regev: "RE: [unrev-II] Semantic Community Web Portal"

    Good post, Gil. We, individual members of Mankind, belong to a variety
    of social circles, each circle enclosing a commonality of interests
    giving cause to co-operation. A number of these circles wholly fit into
    a larger circle. There are other circles that intersect with one
    another, a condition that leads to conflicting allegiances ("Do I
    testify in court against a family member?"). Still other circles lie
    wholly apart: they are separated by a sea of indifference, lack of
    mutual comprehension. Commerce has an interesting way of segragating
    social circles: don't do business with family members.

    All our circles fit within one big circle within which we share vital
    common interests. Unfortunately, that circle is so huge, we lose sight
    if it. We simply don't sense that we ought to co-operate in the
    preservation of Mother Earth and her resources. Ah, we may know it
    intellectually, but we don't grasp it spiritually. We foul the air and
    the water and take from her resources out of sight of fellow Earthlings,
    like stealing from the cookie jar when mother isn't looking.

    Our spirituality is developed from the moment life begins, typically
    within the family circle and within close community. Rankings of
    sympathies, indifferences, antipathies - hatreds even - are formed that
    later become hard to change. Throughout life we may learn to know
    better, but our early pasts have already taken control. "More than we
    realize," says Doug, "are we controlled by our paradigms."

    Co-evolution across the globe can only come from increasing the
    commonality of upbringing, of values education from the cradle up. Means
    for comunication is a key factor, and more so is just what we
    communicate and do so by deeds more than by words.

    Working along the lines of Doug's thinking holds promise, but it will
    take generations of sustained effort before we see a difference, to get
    away from how we are set apart from birth..

    Here is hoping there is still time.


    Gil Regev wrote:

    > 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 []
    > Sent: mercredi, 12. septembre 2001 21:59
    > To:
    > 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" <>
    > >To: <>
    > >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" <>
    > > >
    > > >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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