Monday, June 27, 2005

In-crowd, in-jokes and gossip (a personal point-of-view)

You may find Dal in the bar. You can't miss her...
Last week in the MLA forum: after the first flurry of fun in our newly made ‘Tavern’ or play area, we seem to have reverted to our normal semi-serious selves. The running magical battles in graphics amused me, but I imagined my cone of white light most of the time, and then just grovelled at the feet of Dal (hail Dal!) and pleaded for protection from the platypus. We already miss Dal (hail Dal!) – who has had to go off fighting crime, or something (defending criminals?) – Mindy and ZP seem in great, feisty mode however, and Hecate turns up pretty often to support them, so between them they manage to balance our sometimes rather nerdy male selves…

The Reading Group plough on with the heavy-going, and sometimes depressing Reich reading - although it has led to some very interesting discussions on the nature of fascism, mob mentality, the current state of the USA, emotional armouring and the emotional plague, etc. All good stuff.

We plan to tackle Korzybski next. It may prove hard to get our hands on hardback copies of Science and Sanity, but we already found an online copy. So many of us refer to General Semantics, and to E-Prime, that I think this particular reading could lead to very stimulating discussions. I did read it more than a decade ago, but I remember feeling quite impressed (it made an impression on me, in me – it dented my reality). There may well exist popularisations of this material, but I always like going to the source.

The origin of this work was a new functional definition of 'man', as formulated in 1921, based on an analysis of uniquely human potentialities; namely, that each generation may begin where the former left off. This characteristic I called the 'time-binding' capacity. Here the reactions of humans are not split verbally and elementalistically into separate 'body', 'mind', 'emotions', 'intellect', 'intuitions', etc., but are treated from an organism-as-a-whole-in-an-environment (external and internal) point of view. This parallels the Einstein-Minkowski space-time integration in physics, and both are necessitated by the modern evolution of sciences. - Alfred Korzybski
We still have a lot more members than active posters – but I never really know if people join who can afford to spend $60 just to look, and then wander off. Like people who think that ‘joining a gym’ shows they care about their health (but never actually go and do any classes). No doubt we have lurkers who don’t feel like joining in because we look like an in-crowd (and as a founder who posts several times a day I plead guilty to having a loud voice, or high-profile presence) but really we welcome new people in warmly, and encourage people to speak up, either with opinions, or links, or corrections. If we use argot or jargon - just ask!

A thread about The Church of Reality seems to have stirred up some serious discussion about religions, communities, useful beliefs, cults, etc. To me it looks like a joke (conceived when smoking a joint, it says in the history) - but that doesn't mean that it won't go the way of (say) scientology and turn into a cult. The 'guru' took a cult test by Secret Agent Orange, and reckons they pass the test as 'not a cult'. We could check this out for MLA, too, given that he offers this definition:
Examples of groups that have some cult properties include religions, nations, political parties, corporations, non profit organizations, sport team fans, neighborhood associations, bridge clubs, softball teams, online discussion boards, Macintosh users, bike clubs, and vegans. Not to say that you should quit all these groups but that all of them will be to some extent at least benignly cultish.
NB: This MLA does not represent the Modern Language Association (although I liked their map of where different languages get spoken in the USA – as we keep on teasing Americans for acting monolingual in English). Oh, and we have no affiliation with the Museums, Libraries and Archives council in the UK – although my own current job has to do with their project of rolling out “Internet access for all” through libraries. The Peoples Network.

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