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

From: Gil Regev (
Date: Thu Sep 13 2001 - 13:10:26 PDT

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    I just had an illustration of what I was saying in my earlier post. I was
    helping my two sons ages 6 and 4 to clean up their room tonight when they
    started teasing me. I didn't pay attention to it until the elder said to the
    younger, "we'd better stop teasing Dad. We need him to help us clean the
    room." It seems like a very selfish way of looking at things but it means
    that when we realize that we need the other party, we cannot annoy them
    anymore, or at least not too much.
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Henry K van Eyken []
      Sent: jeudi, 13. septembre 2001 14:27
      Subject: Re: OFFTOPIC:Re: [unrev-II] Fwd: Re: [PORT-L] Comments On
    Terrorist Attacks

      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
      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
          -----Original Message-----
          From: Jack Park []
          Sent: mercredi, 12. septembre 2001 21:59
          Subject: Re: OFFTOPIC:Re: [unrev-II] Fwd: Re: [PORT-L] Comments On
    Terrorist Attacks

          Your post responds precisely to the vision I had when I forwarded the
          discussion; you have just outlined the primary reason that I take
          in promoting the values espoused in Douglas Engelbart's vision: those
          values are would promote the kinds of communication necessary to form
          bonds of trust you outline.
          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
    >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
    >with the blunt reality of the cold, fractured corpse.
    >That the perpertrators would inflict this on the U.S. says to my mind
    >they have seen this before, and that they (for reasons they clearly
    >intensely) see the U.S. as having been the root cause of that for
    >(Whether the U.S. really was or not doesn't matter at this juncture,
    >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
    >in their aftermath we saw the truth, and now we return it all to
    >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
    >shallow, fickle, trite and debasing, with no respect for awesome
    >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
    >and collaborations -- genuine respect, compassion, love, and true
    >----- 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
    >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
    >ones who started all this. Calling the Pentagon "a symbol of
    >ability and determination to project and defend democratic values"
    >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
    >events. For me, it is perhaps an overly simple notion to lay the
    >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
    >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
    >(e.g. the cockpit; the terrorist operatives; Bin-Laden (or whomever
    >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
    >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
    >to get some perspective on what you're saying. For better or worse,
    >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
    >justify it."
    >Here is what follows. I post this because I believe there is merit
    >finding ways to look at information flow with an eye biased by the
    >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
    > > just the buildings are symbols; from the terrorists
    > > the dead innocents also serve only as sign-vehicles, not as
    > > Indeed, from Bin-Laden's (or whomever it really is)
    > > 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
    > > 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
    > > 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
    > >might be a useful bit of knowledge in these times.
    > >
    > >Jon Awbrey
    > >

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