Iain Cameron's Diary
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2006-12-28 - 5:51 a.m.
I have been talking to Phil, the analyst at DTI, about 10 Short Stories and I think I will probably burn him a copy in the New Year. His hero is Bill Nelson and he has just stumped up for a BN signature guitar to go with his PRS. He sent me the link to some BN vids on UTube just before Christmas and I sent him the link to Gilbert playing Three Hours. I listened to three of the 10SS yesterday and thought they were OK.
PW has mailed to say that he likes the vid about the New Ecology which I also sent as seasonal greeting to Lawrence (not to be confused with Laurence). The music on this is mostly Electric Elf – a kind of half size Tanglewood PRS and the amp simulator that I have reclaimed from Vita. PW also sent me a copy of his Solstice 2006 poem – preceded by the Donne one. We dug deeper on a couple of the image clusters.
Santa brought me Mulgan’s book on good and bad government and I ploughed through Steve Fuller’s book on STS in East Anglia. Its mostly about biology and physics. He seems to have some doubts about the ambitions of biology and I cant help but agree. If anything I would say he throttles back on the political fall-out from Darwinism. It seems to me that the subject matter of big biology is such that it cant help itself appearing to have implications for proximate domains. There is now no question in my mind the in the 19C the big shift was from Kant’s transcendental reconciliation of physics and ethical deliberation to the Darwinian invasion of politics by biology.
I dipped into Arie Brand’s book on Habermas. He makes the very good point that whereas Adorno and Horkheimer were concerned with internal psychological states and the disruption of enlightenment values, Habermas works with behaviour – and makes a hard and fast distinction between system behaviour and communicative behaviour. He wants to re-establish the Kantian reconciliation it seems to me.
In the light of all this, I sent Lawrence a txt suggesting that the big thing in 2006 was the way that the dawk became such a salient figure in UK culture. Its neither here nor there whether his arguments are any good – and in fact my Edinburgh School indoctrination says they can’t possibly be any good. The interesting thing is that so many people are tempted to think that because the dawk has a decent track record within a fairly imperialistic wing of evolutionary biology he therefore may have something sensible to offer on the nature of a rational society.
The proposition is – trust me I am a scientist. I can therefore tell you authoritatively that nature works like this. Because nature works like this and we are part of nature you should believe me when I suggest that within society we must re-engineer matters to downgrade these various bits of culture that I don’t happen to like very much. It’s a move back to a particular kind of 18C and 19C thought pattern.
I must read some more dawk to see what the promise is – is it freedom which would be Kantian or is it functioning which would be the Huxleyan dystopia.
As I say, the interesting thing about 2006 is that this proposition seems to strike a chord in so many people’s minds. The classic analysis would be that what is driving this is the culture’s experience of itself – its collective representations and self understanding. Strains and tensions within social self understanding predispose people to see culture as needing fixing – rather in the way that a malfunction on your car would encourage you to take it to a mechanic. If this pattern is right then it represents quite a major entanglement between what in Habermas’ terms would be the system and the lifeworld. Rather than taking the culture to a mechanic people seem to want to take it to an evolutionary biologist. Shows how desperate people must be feeling – I blame T Blair.
On Boxing Day we went for a walk round Ipswich Docks to savour the atmosphere.
I read some Vytigovsky as well and I talked to James a bit about the Great Terror. One of the things on his mind is the extremely limited amount of archive available to interpret major transitions in Soviet society. Apparently there is one archive about a part of western Russia which suggests that the Terror may itself have an economic root – in terms of the economic plan not working out as intended. Its impossible to check whether this is a quirk of this region or whether similar factors apply elsewhere. It seems Putin is clamping down on historians ferreting about in this way.
Vytigovsky died in 1934 and so he missed the Terror. His learning theories represent an alternative path for dialectical materialism as a learning society – so in theory when the soviets discovered the plan wasn’t working the sensible thing to do would have been to deploy Vyti’s models of collective learning on the collective farms.
Somehow Taichi Ono seems to have got there first – and the result is the Prius. I see Ford shares are up on rumours they have been talking to Toyota.