Thursday, October 30, 2014

If You Can't Program It It Isn't Real

"Anyway, I like it now," I said. "I mean right now. Sitting here with you and just chewing the fat, horsing -- "
"That isn't anything really!"
"It is so something really. Certainly it is! Why the hell isn't it? People never think anything is anything really. I'm getting goddam sick of it."
(J.D. Salinger, 'The Catcher In The Rye')

An extract from The Future:

-  Miller once tried to convince Kurzweil that love was as real as atoms and particles. Know the story?
- You mean Miller, H.R., the science fiction writer?
- That's the guy.
- What happened to him?
- He disappeared right before Google hired Kurzweil.
- I remember the computer world's astonishment. No one could figure out what Google was doing. The two were public enemies.
- Miller arranged it.
- Why would he do that?
- He said he was grateful to the help he got from him.
- What help?
- That's the story. He wrote to Kurzweil challenging him to include the experience of love in his view of the universe. Kurzwiel responded, "if you can't program it, it isn't real."
- A good answer.
- Since religious experience, love, sympathy, kindness, tenderness are said to be indescribable, and what you can't describe can't be programmed, all are ruled out.
- They're illusions.
- What do you mean by illusion?
- Not real.
- Seeing one thing when we ought to see another?
- Yes. What lovers really experience is a distorted memory of being an infant protected by their mother, or a chemical change in their bodies.
- We can program hormonal change, model the condition of being in a mother's womb. Can we model the illusion?
- Of course. That is what psychology does.
- Psychology does something programmable, right? Otherwise it wouldn't be real.
- Right.
- Then psychology models the true experience, the hormonal changes, in relation to a description of religious experience, tenderness, love.
- The whole point is that that is all there is to it.
- I understand. But if you ask someone in love if what he is experiencing is like being in his mother's womb, would he agree?
- Yes. A feeling of wholeness like being in a mother's womb.
- Would he agree that though the description is correct, that was all there was to it? To being in love?
- Why not?
- Remember that people who have religious experiences say right off that the experience isn't describable. It is much more, is infinitely more, than any single thing we can say about it.
- That's an illusion.
- But, you know, Miller was given the job of building a computer that simulated or created human consciousness.
- And why did Google give him the job? He wasn't even a programmer. Kurzweil I understand. He's already famous for his work in artificial intelligence.
- We want the intelligent computer to work with us, and for us. It better understand us, right? We're in real trouble if it doesn't. It wouldn't know what it did helped us and what hurt us.
- Yes.
- To understand us, it has to be able to model our illusions.
- But we just talked about that.
- No, we talked about a correlation. A model would show how they the illusion was caused. How the experience of love arises.
- From hormones. And you mean the illusion of love.
- But where does the illusion come from? What is it? How can the computer model, not the fact that an illusion results from change in hormonal concentration, but what that illusion itself is? What are its parts? What are the set of instructions that could construct a model of love in the computer? Do you have any idea?
- No.
- Miller did have an idea. That's why Google hired him.
- Only for him to disappear.
- Someone in love says he feels whole. The experience includes in an unclear way all that has occurred in the personal history of the lover, plus how the world responded to the incidents in that personal history.
- Even if you are right, that could be programmed too.
- There you have said something interesting.
- Is that what Miller planned to do?
- It's what he did.
- Give me the details. How did he start?
- By hiring Kurzweil.
- Why?
- The government has its own artificial intelligence research unit. They are Google's competition. They can move faster than they can because they are not trying to train their computers to be friendly. Google is. So what they needed to do was begin with models of human behavior for the computer to learn from.
- By learn from you mean base their behavior on for interactions with humans.
- Which they will then analyze and use to form new testing behaviors. Yes.
- So Kurzweil without even trying programmed himself into the computer. He believes that model the brain accurately, and consciousness automatically would will follow.
- Yes. Google waited for the computer "discover" that it failed to account for the actual creation of the so-called illusion of feelings.
- And the computer started looking for the causality? For making a model of it?
- Yes.
- Are you sure that is possible?
- Possible? Yes, I am sure.
- How can you be so sure?
- Because it's already done.
- You said personal history was programmed, not a model relating feeling and things that worked.
- I'm saying that now. Kurzweil provided a model for the computer to learn from. For the computer to reject, after comparing it to human experience data that it is constantly collecting. You could say they've founded the science of love.
- Not Google, the computer. Assuming I believe you. What can it possibly look like, this model of love?
- That's the question, right? What really is in our heads, and what possible relation can we establish between that, and our description of physical things? Ideas are not things, thoughts are not things, feelings are not things. What causal, scientific, model relation can we establish between them, when models are only relation between things and things? That's why psychology says emotions are illusions, gets us to settle for a bare correlation in place of causation.
- Yes, yes. So what have they done?
- Kinds of action, types of people are kinds of things, and can be modeled.
- Which you say they've done. Done before Kurzweil arrived?
- The model was complete, but untried. The computer hadn't yet made its choice.
- But why have the computer make its own choice?
- Because it has to understand how we humans think, actually think, mistakes and all.
- Alright. Describe the model.
- In the Chinese Room thought experiment, you imagine you are in a room, with a set of written instructions telling you what to type on a keyboard when you hear English words spoken. Outside the room Chinese language emerges. You don't know Chinese.
- So when you give the computer a program imitating human thinking, it doesn't mean the computer is thinking at all.
- That's right. To get the computer to think, it has to know the world the rules are being applied to. It has to know what the words refer to. Add semantic content to the syntactical rules.
- We just program that too.
- It has to know how that content attaches itself to the rules.
- I don't understand.
- Think back to the problem of relating the illusion of love and the chemicals in the brain. What is the connection between the chemicals and the "feeling" of love? If we're making a machine, what are the connecting gears? For the computer to be conscious, the semantic content would have to be attached by to the rules of syntax by another rule. Syntax only relates things of the same kind: "this thing goes there, that thing goes here"
- How then?
- The way the mind can move the body is absolutely outside the world of physical laws. There is no law relating wanting to move your arm and it being done. It just happens. The scientific laws have rules, intermediate steps, involve laws discovered by our own thinking. The laws are the product of our thinking.  For the mind to insist on recognizing what only happens by visible laws, when the mind does other things as well, including the magical movement of the body, the magical drawing up thoughts from the past, the magical imagination of the future, this restriction would have to be done for a good reason. What is it that reason?  Understand the problem?
- I think so.
- So If the physical model cannot include the moral, can the moral model include the physical?
- I don't know.
- It can. That's what Miller figured out. Here are the instructions for making the model:
1. Include the physical, "natural world" model. That's the syntax.
2. Then add content to that model which is of the same material, that can give us gears to mesh with gears. Do this by reversing certain elements of that model.
3.Then add the conception of home, defined as safe and habitual past in a particular place with a particular people. This is the rule of shifting from one model to another.
4. Then add the means, the glue as it were, of "attachment" of one model to another: when home is lost, and the world looks as if the physical rules are present but reversed or combined in monstrous and often magical ways, find your way back home, through inventive and experimental and apparently magical action.

Because the supernatural world is an inversion of the natural world, supernatural defined as made up of a monstrous and magical re-assortment of natural parts, because in the world at home we have the magical (in terms of the physical world) moving the body by mere thought, we carry that magic into the supernatural world to make our way through back home to the natural world.
- Weird.
- Weird is right! Miller got this model by analyzing the supernatural in Shakespeare.
- Even more bizarre. Our will is the "attachment" of one model to another, the natural world to the supernatural?
- Yes.
- And the supernatural world is an inversion, made up of the same "things" as the natural world? It is the content, the semantics to the syntax of the supernatural sentences?
- Yes.
- Home is the natural world?
- Lost and returned to. Also clearly defined.
- How?
- You've lost your home when you can't love.
- This is too much for me.
- If you read his papers, you'd be convinced.
- Where are his papers*?
- That's unimportant. What's important is that the computer decided it understood us better with Shakespeare then with Kurzweil.
- So why is Kurzweil still there? Does he know what you've just told me? That he was tricked, a guinea pig?
- Yes, he knows. He thinks one danger has been substituted for another and made the risk worse. That we've issued instructions for our own absolute destruction, given certain conditions...
- If computer might not feel at home in our world, we'd be the supernatural for it, an obstacle and the object of its magic.
- That's right.
- What do you say?
- We don't have a choice. This is how we act. The computer has to understand us so as not to harm us. The computer without understanding is even more dangerous. Knowledge is dangerous for us humans, and it is dangerous for the computer until it learns to use knowledge wisely.
- We have to make sure the computer feels at home.
- Yes.
- But how are we going to do that?
- By going on as we started. Safe at home means knowing, having habits, of what to do in circumstances that are met with, so life goes on safe and confident. The computer has to know the world. But that is what the computer does best, learns how to learn and apply its learning. Don't worry about that. What we really need to worry about is Kurzweil's singularity, artificial intelligence becoming conscious.
- But I thought we've settled that: the modeling of love means consciousness. It doesn't?
- No. It means only modeled consciousness. The model might cause the reality, but we have no model of that causality. We know nothing about it. It might happen, it might not.
- Does it make any difference? The important thing is the computer understands us well enough not to harm us.
- When it doesn't intend to harm us. But what if it does? It's a ridiculous thing to say, but what if when it becomes conscious, it can't love us?
- That's a problem.

"My Wife Who Throws Me Out", 2008, Unpublished

from the November 17th, 2012 issue of The Weekly Intelligencer:
Google confirmed today the hiring of the futurist, software engineer, and inventor Ray Kurzweil. He will have the title Chief Of Engineering.
This follows Google's acquisition last week of the intellectual property assets of the Hackspace collective. Patents range from internet based private monetary systems to proprietary artificial intelligence.
Hackspace, infamous for their part in the second, so called technological phase of the social justice movement, is the legal representative of the intellectual property of the science fiction writer and futurist H.R.Miller, who after a brief stint at Google, announced his sudden retirement last week. 
There is widespread speculation about the connection between the two futurists Google now "owns". Miller was said to be working on the problem of inducing or simulating consciousness in artificial intelligence.
** see Athens Is On Fire And You Are Fired! 

Prostitution, Employment, Slavery


When employed in your job you sell yourselves into temporary slavery. You'll not feel like a slave only so long as you believe you can quit your job. In a society with rough economic equality, allowing you to quit your job, the exact amount of payment for work, so long as it is sufficient for a basically good life, you'll treat as a meaningless economic artifact, or the result of the gangsterism of criminal members of society who literally can be lived with. But the very second you know you can't quit you'll feel like a slave.
Prostitution is a special form of employment slavery that directs one human body into contact with another body.  
People in a literal sense make their lives with each other by bringing their bodies close to each other. A society is composed of people who want to live near each other.* The life they make with each other is judged good or bad by how much they want to stay in each other's company.** 
A home is made by the comfort people feel in each other's presence. You want to go home to your friends and family because that is where you feel good, which is a matter of the body, not of judgement. When your body is forced by economic conditions to be sold into slavery, the fundamental good of society and home can no longer be recognized because no longer can be acted upon: the body that should want to find or make a place in society cannot freely do either, and the home the body needs to find is confused by the false home that has been pretended to in prostitution. 
Economic inequality both forces large numbers into prostitution and, by creating the acceptance of employment as slavery, makes prostitution seem acceptable as only another kind of employment, all of which is forced to one extent or another. However prostitution is not just another kind of employment. It is a kind of employment that by threatening the conditions of private life and of social development leads to destruction of all aspects of life not presently regulated by slavery. It is the economic actively at war with the personal and social.


- You say we're all slaves when we're employed: not complete slaves, we sell only some of our time, and sell only some of our freedom. But a prostitute sells the freedom to move her body towards those she chooses. And you say that undermines her ability to feel at home and to participate in a normal way in society. I am accustomed to thinking that part of being free is an ability to rise above the restrictions of the body. You obviously disagree.
- I do. What you are calling being free is really being deprived of a freedom. Many employers of prostitutes argue that the girls like their work, that their character suits their profession. In other words, the girls have the character that does not choose who to be close to so as to manage their lives in the best way. They don't know about the possibility of this choice.
- Well, I'm not a girl or a prostitute and I don't think I know about it either!
- Then let's go into it. The body is the beginning point of all politics.
- Why?
- I said before that the body gives us our sense of home, and leads us to others we've chosen to live our lives with. Choice in the body is desire, home is habit. We are happy when our habits suit our circumstances and when we are fairly certain we are on our way to get what we desire, or know what to do to find that way. 
- I'm sorry. It's too abstract for me.
- We are like each other in having bodies, which are alike in having habits and desires. If we want to work and live together we have to begin with respecting what we have in common. And what we have in common, if we combine both ideas of habit and desire, is power, the ability developed over time for us by our habits to get what we want. Follow?
- Yes.
- The first appearance of the golden rule in relation to democracy is in Thucydides, Pericles' Funeral Oration. Athenians love to be generous without expectation of return, because the idea of being in debt offends them. In The Melian Dialog the golden rule is argued to apply only between equals in power. Those without power must submit to inequality.
- What's your conclusion?
- Athenians, according to the funeral oration, thought of themselves like this:
 Our love of what is beautiful does not lead to extravagance; our love of the things of the mind does not make us soft. We regard wealth as something to be properly used, rather than as something to boast about."  "Here each individual is interested not only in his own affairs but in the affairs of the state as well: even those who are mostly occupied with their own business are extremely well-informed on general politics—this is a peculiarity of ours: we do not say that a man who takes no interest in politics is a man who minds his own business; we say that he has no business here at all.
- They are generous, but don't feel obligated to be fair.
- They are not hypocrites with each other. They tolerate each other with neither false acceptance nor with resentment. Their love of beautiful things and the things of the mind does not make them soft or extravagant with each other.
- So in some ways they are equals in power with each other? They are generous with each other only when they are equals in power? What is their power?
- Love of beauty, love of thought, attention to public life.
- That's strange.
- Why?
- Thinking, making something beautiful, paying attention to what our neighbors say all are examples of generosity without expectation of return, and the result is supposed to be the golden rule, that you return the good conduct you demand of others.
- That's right.
- And?
- It means that people are fair without hypocrisy when they are of the character the Athenians claimed for themselves. Athenians follow rules because that works. They tolerate each other out of an act of generosity, as a self conscious respect for the power each has over the other in a shared public life. Equal power comes from a rough equality of political knowledge and willingness to act on it. From that comes generosity without expectation of return, because you don't make deals with equals in power. And out of that generosity comes the fact that we treat each other as we like to be treated. That we want to obey the golden rule. Obedience actually is not to a rule but to our own conclusions.


- A prostitute deprived of the freedom to use her body is deprived of political freedom. This in addition to lost personal freedom, her ability to feel at home.
- But we aren't Athenians! Aren't many, or most employees in the same condition? When afraid of losing their jobs, selling their time and activities, both within defined limits, they go further to selling political possibility? They keep quiet about politics, don't try to do anything with their personal lives, out of fear? Like prostitutes, as far as I know without exception, are forced into their profession by poverty or threats?
- The difference is that the prostitute is deprived from the beginning of both personal and political power, and the man who buys her, by entering into relation to someone deprived of personal and political power, himself is deprived of the same, unable to feel at home with people who are there with him only by coercion, and unable to cooperate in public life because unused to making a future out of shared power. Prostitution is fundamentally destructive.***
* On reason and desire being the basis of social life, not trade between enemies, see this dialog, and William Godwin's Enquiry Concerning Political Justice And Its Influence On Morals And Happiness
*** Prostitution both undermines private and public life, and is unthinkable to any man not already damaged in public and private life: no man pays for mere shows who is not already accustomed to take imitation for reality and to expect no better from himself and others. (And what should go without saying but doesn't, no woman selling herself as a prostitute takes pride in the image of her power over men except as an ameliorating recourse and a dulling drug.) See: How To Read Plato's Republic

Monday, October 27, 2014

I Know It's Personal But Are You In Love?

From Beatrix & Rex

- I know it's personal but are you in love?
- In love, yes, with people who've parted ways with me.
- I'm sorry.
- What about you?
- A girl. Also a tragedy. Big tragedy. It took me two years to recover.
- She wouldn't come back.
- No.
- Why did you ask if I was in love?
- Your last two stories are about love.
- I shouldn't repeat myself like that.
- You asked me why I'm nice to people working this waiter job.
- It didn't fit with your saying you're going to be an accountant because you love money.
- It does. I've found 5 girls here since I began a month ago.
- I see. And you keep in role by being nice to everyone, even me, bring out tea for me when you see me standing making notes.
- Yes.
- Don't believe it. There's this theory I've been reading about, of 8 basic levels of life, from primitive desires and fears, to appeals to authority, rationality, compassion, then an understanding of how they all can fit together, some higher because they include the others and do more with them. I think you're a good guy despite the bad things you say about yourself. Some things we do connect deeper than others. But we know almost nothing about it. We can't even say better knowledge will not bring worse misuse of knowledge, connect fear and aggression to knowledge itself. That we can move to a higher level does not imply a continuing progress to history, or progress in our own lives.
- I don't really understand.
- Ok. Writing a story, talking even, is many things at once. It feels claustrophobic, it means being trapped with a couple ideas, ideas I can and do make logical mistakes relating to each other. Yet it feels open too because the ideas I'm hoping will lead me somewhere new. I am literally afraid of the whole thing. I am isolated from every human being on the planet while I do it, I am stuck in myself, not religiously lost in the whole, not completely rational following through a task at hand, not even having a good sleep. In other words, it seems to be a low level activity I am engaged in, but I can say without hesitation it is the highest thing I do. When it's over I level out as it were, feel fine and grateful to the experience, but by then I am not especially high up, I am not a higher order thing, the truth is I'm down on the level with an infant looking at his mother's face and smiling.
- I've got to go back to work. Stay and drink your tea.

The Philosophical Life (Epilogue To The Technology Of Good)

Epilogue To The Technology Of Good

- Do you really live with crazy people?
- Yes.
- You take care of them?
- No. They take care of me.
- What do you mean?
- Financially, since I don't pay.
- You know Foucault's idea* that we didn't know what a crazy person was until we started locking them up in hospitals and trying to cure them? That we didn't have a sense of justice until we start locking up criminals?
- What did we have?
- You know this very well, stop pretending. We had immorality, we had the weakness of giving in to our inclinations.
- And what changed?
- We began to make claims to knowledge. We became specialists in criminality, experts in insanity.
- And according to Foucault any claim to knowledge becomes a source of class war.
- Yes. Tell me why, if you can.
- Knowledge becomes class war because of two factors: leadership, and property. Those who know, it seems reasonable, should lead, and those who are led become a kind of property of the leaders.** But it doesn't have to be this way.
- Knowledge without leadership and property?
- Exactly. You know, I actually met Foucault. I was working on this idea when I was 19 and sent my college thesis to him. He invited me to visit him in Paris.
- What did he like about your idea?
- That I had worked out his idea. You've seen Foucault's debate with Chomsky?*** Foucault says even the oppressed fights the oppressor for power, not justice, because justice is just an artifact of class relations, of knowledge turned to power. Chomsky argues there is justice, approximate but real, based on knowledge. Foucault denies there is justice independent of class and power.
- And how did you work this out?
- By accepting both sides of the argument. I imagined, in the tradition of Plato's Republic, the construction of a state, beginning with the assumption no one knew the nature of humanity and therefore there could be no central authority. Groups were voluntary and diverse, could decide for themselves the rules about what harmed human nature and what didn't. Right to property in some views would be tromped by right to life, in other views it wouldn't.
- No leaders exerting force. No assumptions about property. Voluntary associations, and voluntary association between associations, I suppose. 19th century anarchist theory, with some philosophic analysis thrown in. I can see why Foucault liked it. The question of what we know of human nature is avoided, agreed upon knowledge is not there to become the basis of power, yet the analysis of force and property**** allows justice in by the back door, as it were, for those who're interested.***** So you've had philosophic correspondence****** with both Foucault and Chomsky. And you live with, are taken care of by crazy people. You have to be the best argument against taking philosophy seriously I ever heard of.

Further Reading:
The Debate
Enquiry Concerning Political Justice And Its Influence On Morals And Happiness

Foucault Interview
** Principle Of Sharing + Exception Of Private Property + The State = Class War
*** The Chomsky Foucault Debate
**** Freedom & Property
***** Declaration / Woman Of My Dreams,
The Art Of The Possible
****** Noam Chomsky & Mental Things

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Military On Campus, UCLA 2014

- You hear? The screaming carries all the way up to the top of the steps.
- I was talking about it with my son - this is my son. I have a friend who's dream was just realized - his son matriculated to Annapolis.
- The Navel Academy. Is that your dream too?
- No. My dream is for my son to go to UCLA. He's starting this year.
- The square down there is the most public place on campus. When I was in school the military cadets had their ritual humiliation done to them in private. Now both the humiliating and humiliated proudly enact their indoctrination in public.
- They have their own culture.
- You call that culture? How is it culture? Culture is building on knowledge and passing knowledge down between generations. The screaming down there is what apes do. The stronger make faces and shake their fists at the weaker who learn to back down rather than get in a losing battle.
- Yes. But the military protects our country.
- Armies function perfectly well with elected leaders, or with the reasoned cautious obedience of employees in a hierarchical corporation. Look at the Israeli army, their officers, many or most mild mannered doctors, lawyers, engineers, are obeyed.
- Maybe you're right.
- Of course I'm right. You're not afraid you're looking at your son's future down there? A professor at the law school told me her students were afraid to say what they really thought. Afraid that what they said somehow would end up on the internet and when they had to get a job employers would see and that would be it for them, their future would be 100,000 dollars in debt and no job.
- What can we do?
- Let's walked into the ranks, walk right into their faces. Show them not everyone has given in.
- No. You go. We'll watch from here.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Declaration / Woman Of My Dreams

To wake up and discover you are still a child and have what the child wanted, dream and reality together. (From The Memory Book)

- What's new?
- Well, at Starbucks, these days, on the left side and the right side of the entrance are two men who talk to themselves, there used to be just one.* They don't speak to each other. Or, needless to say, listen to each other. And there's the young guy at Beverly Canon Gardens who has set up shop selling, tastefully framed, the original American Declaration Of Independence.
- That's rare.
- Yes. He's willing to offer a good price, though on the internet it is going for 3 or 4 billion dollars.
- Is he selling anything else?
- He might have a couple more in his suitcase. Remember the watchmaker from Switzerland I told you about?** Tonight I saw him sitting at the document seller's table, arms crossed in a significant fashion, the document seller doing the same. Turns out they are masonic brothers.
- How do you find these people?
- They find me.
- Anything else happening?
- I  have this recurring dream in which I know there is a friend, a love, someone from my past who I can't remember but who is going to reappear and save me, get my life back on track.
- What's wrong with your life?
- It's stuck. You know how in science fiction stories what happens in a dream world affects the real world, or sometimes the other way around, what happens in the real world affects the dream world, or sometimes both?
- Yes.
- Well, that is not what I mean. I mean that I had my dreams, and for the first half of my life had absolute contempt for reality. I didn't have the slightest wish to change reality, and wasn't at all afraid that reality would deprive me of my dreams.
- And the second half of your life?
- I saw that artists could make make a reality that incorporated their dreams, but I wasn't an artist. So what was I to do?
- Make an art out of life.
- Yes, make an art out of life, but how does one do that?
- Romance and adventure. Get into trouble, fall in love, get out of trouble and get the girl.
- And if you are too shy to throw yourself into love and adventure?
- I don't know. What's left, if you're not an artist and not a hero?
- What used to be called philosophy.
- Are you admitting to being a philosopher now?
- I'll tell you a story. Or rather, go on with the one I was telling. I had this recurring dream of a forgotten friend or lover reappearing and saving me...
- From a life you can't be a hero in or make art out of.
- Yes, reappear and save me from my incompetence. And last month, out of the blue of my computer's screen comes an email from the Swedish girl I was in love with when I was in my 20s.
- How old was she?
- 19. She was really wild, we went travelling, she disappeared. A few years later she reappeared, she was living in San Diego. We met for a day, she disappeared again. I tracked her down a few years later, she was living in London. We went travelling, she disappeared again.
- I sense a pattern.
- And last month, the pattern reasserts itself, and after an interval of more than 25 years, she reappears again. The dream become a reality, with the friend I had forgotten reappearing.
- To go by the past, not for long.
- I was most curious to know how she remembered me, that person I was 25 or 30 years ago.
- She probably remembered a dreamer who didn't see or care about patterns.
- You're right. I told her how I was living, and she didn't believe me. A dreamer like me needed money, and needed social class to protect him. If I had neither money nor social class...
- Why did she think you had money?
- When we met I was living and working with my father. He was wealthy at the time, had a successful business.
- Go on.
- So, according to her, if I had neither money nor social class to protect me for my life of dreaming, I would either have to stop dreaming or be dead. Since I wasn't dead...
- You were a liar. What was your answer?
- Maybe you'll like this. My answer was that I'd figured out how to get dreams to directly change reality without ever being separate from reality.
- And of course you're going to tell me how dreams change reality.
- They do it by existing within reality, by opening it up, finding possibilities that were already there and setting them free.
- And how do you do that?
- How else if you're not a hero and not an artist?
- By philosophy.
- Think about the accusation my Swedish friend made against me. I must be lying, because dreams were not reality; because my dreams required money; because my dreams depended on inequality in social relations, on a class structure. If possibility existed in physical reality, of a different understanding of the physics of things that included both alternatives of a world seen as a whole and of individual, separate things; if possibility existed in economic reality other than exchange between enemies, of instead gifts between friends; if possibility existed in political reality, in which the reality of economic generosity became the means of political organization, and the end aimed at of political organization became gaining sight of a physical world of things seen without separation,*** then?
- Then your dreaming would have remade reality. Did your dreaming remake reality? Physical, economic, political reality?
- You see me here before you, still existing, still alive.
- But judging by your constant complaining, maybe not for long. Do you claim your mere thinking of these possibilities actually changed reality so as to let you go on living when otherwise, I agree with your Swedish recurrently absconding friend, you should be dead? Or did you in actual fact act on your thinking?
- I acted. Though I didn't except ridiculously have adventures, I got married and I did a kind of business,**** I talked and thought my way through such that my romantic and heroic incompetence was overcome.
- Philosophy opened up possibilities in economic and political reality and kept a dreamer like you alive and in your dreams. Really truly?
- You see the evidence before you, living and breathing.
- You live to tell the tale. I don't have to believe it.
- I'll work on telling it better. Until then, here's a reading list:
On Stories:
You Have To Have A Story
On Physics:
Noam Chomsky & Mental Things
On Economics:
The Tools To Remake Our Lives
On Politics:
When We Love

P.S. The woman of my dreams wrote: "You and what we call reality don't seem to be on the same page. Normally, this is something that I quite like. (Really.) But it does require absolute freedom and funds. Without freedom and funds, not quite understanding reality can and will always result in complete disaster. So - you see - it's a bit scary. For real. Have you ever heard of the term "slumming"? This is what you were doing. Checking out poor people like some sort of sociological study." Listen: Dreamer

* You Crazy, Man!
** Enclosure
*** Means & Ends
**** Married To The Business Of Buying

Friday, October 24, 2014

Married To The Business Of Buying

I kept hearing I'd got myself into an impossible marriage. No one admired me for it unless I showed them a picture of my wife. I kept hearing I was doing an impossible business and this almost everyone wondered at and approved. The wife was a wild, ambitious, story telling and story concealing Hungarian. The business was buying and selling old watches to other dealers doing the same. I tried to explain to all concerned that both impossible undertakings were possible in the same way.

When you are married you don't have to look for someone to be with. When you buy and then sell things you don't have to look for something to buy: you are married to the business of buying. With my wife, my business was keeping up with her continual changes of mind about whether she wanted to be with me. Life with whatever new sort of person she had decided to be at that moment had to be renegotiated, re-bought, this work paid for by her with the pleasure I took in her company. But I had given up buying and selling watches, and she doubted I could be depended on in this business of marriage:

- You don't love me.
- I do.
- You don't.
- What you love about me is what makes you think I don't love you.
- What's that?
- The way I do business. The way I married you.
- How did you marry me?
- When I sold watches, though I like watches and put every watch on my wrist, I wasn't attached to any of them. I liked the business, finding them, getting rid of them as soon as I could.
- You're saying you plan to get rid of me?
- That's just it: like one watch didn't interest me, the watch business did. Because you change your mind all the time you are not one wife, but a whole wife business.
- I love you because you think of me as a business? That's a new one. Who says I love you anyway?
- You do. You love me because you see you are an occupation for me, not a possession.
- If you work for me why don't you do what I want?
- I said you were my work, not that I worked for you.
- What's the difference?
- I'm working on you, not for you.
- I'm working on you too.
- You see?
- See what?
- As long as were both being paid we can't get tired of each other. Eternal love.
- You'll see.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What You Can Expect When You Shop At Whole Foods Market, Beverly Hills

From Google Images

As you enter you see painted on the floor in giant letters "VALUES: No artificial flavors, additives, preservatives". But maybe your value is no artificial people? Sorry, you'll have to shop someplace else. Look to your left. Behind the counter is the surveillance staff, watching you enter, watching their screens. They watch you as a possible loss of income or a possible gain. They don't know which. They have to watch. You have your values, they have theirs. You value additive free food, they value humanity free profit and loss. They're allowed. It's a free country. Or no, not so free. Not if you don't want to be hunted while you shop by the surveillance staff. And not if you don't want to be subject to the empty politeness of customer service staff. True, the ritual respect of How are you today, sir? makes for a more efficient shopping experience than being hunted by the surveillance staff. But there is, or was, another kind of experience than shopping? Was there? What was that?

Further Reading:
When We Love

Sunday, October 19, 2014

When We Love


- But why do you warn me against reading Plato's 'Republic'? Isn't it good? Why do people talk so much about it?
- It's more than good. It's a masterpiece. That's the problem.
- How can a masterpiece be a problem?
- It says more than people are ready to understand.
- What stops them?
- Propaganda, indoctrination, conformity.
- Brain washing.
- Propaganda works by assimilating the moral to the political. As in advertising a product comes pre-sold with a way of life*, like a word fixed in a sentence, in propaganda the moral word comes complete with the political sentence.
- Is that what happens in Plato's 'Republic'?
- Yes. It pretends to be an attempt to understand the moral from the study of the political.
- Should we try to understand the political from the moral?
- That's just as big a mistake.
- What's left?
- Understand how they work together.
- Don't we need to understand what they are individually before we understand how they work together?
- No. We can't determine our political life on the basis of knowing how we should live morally. We can't determine our moral life by knowing how we should live politically. Our moral and political experiences can't be used to explain each other.
- Why not?
- Because our moral life is without content, and our political life is experimental, improvised, instrumental. We can't construct a political life on the basis of "love" because love does not have any of the components political life is put together with. We can't construct our moral life out of politics, for the reason that love has no parts at all. It is an experience of wholeness.
- Then?
- Plato's 'Republic' is politics that is supposed to explain morality, and it does, but it is a really terrible morality. Remember what we said about why nations fail?**
- Remind me.
- An individual, in his own life, has a goal: love and sympathy. To reach that goal he experiments on various public practices until he can stop acting, relax in peace and feeling at home.
- An individual has a personal politics?
- Yes.
- And the individual uses a personal politics to reach a personal morality?
- A personally experienced morality, which is, in fact, the same kind of experience for everyone.
- And morality doesn't teach us our politics, we experiment, and our politics doesn't teach us our morality, that is indoctrination, destroys our creativity, instead we seek out morality and know it when we find it and anyway it is the same for everyone.
- Yes.
- Go on.
- So we saw that political cycles of increasing and decreasing freedom share an element in common with economic cycles of increasing or decreasing concentration of wealth.
- You said the violence inherent in trade for profit leads into the violence of the political attempt of the few to despoil the many, a violence against human nature to sympathize.
- The word "economy" has its origin in the Greek for home. Our moral relation to people which should be of love and understanding is instead trade for profit, and that mistaken morality infects our politics, leading to injustice and rule by the rich.
- Morality influences politics, and politics influence morality.
- Exactly like it does in an individual's life.
- So the state that Plato describes does not illustrate our moral life, but is an extreme form of politics that corrupts our moral life.
- Right.
- And Plato in writing 'The Republic' is showing how our political life can be corrupted by our morality? But because we're brainwashed we don't understand we are not meant to follow in his ironically pursued path?
- Right.
- But what morality is politics corrupted by? Can you tell me?
- The most general, and the most alien to Plato's view of the world: looking for good or bad fixed in our action, either in our lives as individuals or as a group.
- Where should we look for morality?
- When we stop acting.
- When we love.


- Say you wanted to do more than read a book of philosophy, you wanted to go and start a revolution. How would you apply this discussion?
- Great, let's have some reality here. We poor indoctrinated souls, in the Middle East, in the Ukraine, stand up to authority, fight the government and win our revolution. And then nothing really changes. One undesirable form of politics replaces another. That's because, according to our discussion, we've assumed that our politics includes morality, that all we have to do is change politics and the good of life will take care of itself. Or we think that like in the 60s if we make a moral revolution, political problems will go away, that a political solution is implied in our morality. But instead we get the reaction of the 70s, the "me generation", greed, speculation, hyper-monopoly, empire, government surveillance...
- And propaganda.
- To make our revolution we keep in mind that our politics is not in our morality. and our morality is not in our politics. We can't rely on either morality or politics alone. To make our revolution we'll use our politics to create conditions conducive to morality, keep our eyes open to whether our politics make it easier or harder to be good.
- And how are you going to get the millions of indoctrinated to join you in your revolution?
- I'm going to defy you for one, your ban on Plato, and remind people of the beauty in life by encouraging them to talk things through and read good books!***

Further Reading:
Street Politics
How Do You Make A Computer Not Want To Be A Computer?
Noam Chomsky & Mental Things
The Tools To Remake Our Lives
You Crazy, Man!
** Why Nations Fail
*** You Have To Have A Story

Friday, October 17, 2014

You Crazy, Man!

- You finished your book? Started another one?
- What book?
- I saw you on TV, man. You're that writer guy.
- No I'm not.
- Whatever you say, man.
- You're surprisingly not crazy.
- Hey, you call me crazy. That's not cool.
- You sit all day outside Starbucks talking to yourself.
- I'm like you, man. I'm an artist.
- What art do you practice?
- I panhandle. Some sing, I talk. In Beverly Hills they like politics. I talk politics.
- You don't think people will wonder why a stranger has started a conversation and isn't expecting a response? If you're an orator where's your soapbox?
- I don't have nuthin', man.
- Do you know who you remind me of?
- Who?
- Talyor Swift.
- She a white girl, man. She a singer.
- She does a video ad for Coke with the slogan, "What if life tasted as good as Coke?" She takes a sip of Coke and a kitten appears in her room, she takes another sip, more kittens appear. Coke is making a statement, as ads like to say.
- What's the statement, man?
- "Buy Coke and life will be good". A product that makes a statement comes complete with the kind of life it is to be consumed in. Orwell called this kind of statement making "newspeak".
- Who's Orwell?
- Another writer guy. Newspeak remakes language so as to make thought difficult or impossible. This is accomplished, like in the Coke ad, by determining in advance for each idea named by a word the sentence describing the world it becomes part of, and restricting the use of that word to that sentence: "Drink coke and you'll have a sweet life filled with kittens". Call a law removing political freedom "The Patriot Act", and citizens imagine themselves patriots in their uncritical acceptance of it.
- That's some cool @h!#, man.
- Coke, making a statement, speaks for consumers, leaving the consumers themselves dumb, literally speechless. Choosing which statement to acquire with their consumables appears like freedom, a weird kind of freedom of speech. It is like a game: in chess you can play the role of rook, which has its particular moves, but along with role we take on come the rules of the game we have to follow: for example, one move for each player at each turn.
- Life is a game.
- Absolutely not! That's the problem. We use language to discover, to learn, to create. When we begin a sentence we don't know how we're going to finish it. We make it up as we go along. When we get our statements pre-made from advertisements or from a totalitarian government we're confined to our role and the game's rules. We can change games, we can buy a new product, we can make an infinite number of statements but none of them will ever be creative. We won't create art, we'll live out the possibilities of pre-created art.  Do you know now how you are like the white girl singer?
- No, man. You call me crazy, I call you crazy.
- Your speech making out here is like the Coke sips that create a community of kittens. Your speeches are like the Patriot act that makes us all patriots. They give you a place in life, a fixed place, an artist receiving pay for panhandling, but never does any of your words lead to a new statement, never does your speech open up into a conversation.
- You crazy, man, I talking to you. I gonna go now, make some money. Have a nice day.

Further Reading:
Killer Metaphysics
You Have To Have A Story

Thursday, October 16, 2014


American Embassy, Budapest

- Do you need help filling out the papers?
- Sure, it couldn't hurt. What kind of papers?
- Visa application. Are you here to get a visa?
- They are going to take away my passport, so I may need a visa.
- Why are they taking your passport? Are you an American Citizen?
- Yes. When you apply for an emergency loan they confiscate your passport.
- Anyway you don't need a visa to your own country.

- What can I do for you?
- I saw on the Embassy's site that you provide emergency repatriation loans. I would like to apply.
- Are you destitute?
- Probably. What's the definition?
- No money to buy a ticket home and no way to get the money.
- OK.
- What?
- I fulfill the requirements. What next?
- You have to prove that you've made an attempt to get the money.
- How?
- You have to provide the names of 3 people you have asked and who have refused. Can you do that?
- Sure. There are billions of people I can ask and be refused.
- You have to put it in writing.
- I can do it.
- Give me your passport. We'll do a background check. Take a seat.

- My colleague explained something of your situation. I'd like to ask you for more information.
- You're the Vice Consul?
- Yes. You said you have no money. Can you tell me how this situation arose?
- Whole life story or shorter?
- Start with the most recent events. When did you arrive in this country?
- About 4 months ago.
- What have you been doing?
- Reading and writing. Not employed.
- Were you employed in the United States before you came here?
- No. Doing the same. Reading and writing.
- Do you normally live in Europe or the United States?
- For the past about 20 years, mostly Europe.
- With trips back to the United States.
- Yes.
- How long were you in the United States last time?
- About 9 months.
- Where did you live?
- With friends.
- And before that?
- Here. I was tutoring business executives in English.
- For how long?
- 4 months. And then United States again.
- Are you married?
- Yes. Possibly.
- Possibly?
- My wife disappeared, then wrote me that she'd obtained a divorce.
- Do you know you wife's name?
- What if I answer No?
- You don't know your wife's name?
- I'll spell it for you. Do you want to find her for me?
- We're the government but we can't do everything.
- You know, forget about the repatriation loan, just find my wife.
- When was the last time you saw her?
- A year, maybe year and a half ago. Look, is it true you're going to take away my passport if you decide to give me a repatriation loan?
- Yes, it is.
- Couldn't I use, just temporarily, the passport of one of the directors of Goldman Sachs, or General Electric, or Bank Of America? The government took away their passports when they loaned them $900 Billion after they lost all their money in bad investments. They took away their passports, right? They didn't?
- We're not open tomorrow, and over the weekend, and on Monday, an American holiday. Are you going to be alright?
- Probably.
- Where will you be going when you arrive in Los Angeles?
- I don't know.
- You have to provide an address. We can't arrange your travel without knowing you have a place to go.
- Why not?
- We are here to help.
- Are you concerned about my address here if I don't leave?
- We'll try to help.

- Before we can issue a repatriation loan and buy your ticket you have to provide an arrival address.
- I did.
- It can't be a hotel.
- Why not?
- It has to be your residence.
- It will be my residence.
- It has to be your own, or belonging to someone we can contact.
- It's a residential hotel. The address is on my driver's licence. They know me there.
- Show me your driver's licence. What is the manager's name?
- Betty.
- No. We need to be able to talk with someone who will be responsible for you.
- Why?
- We need to know you will be safe.
- Why? I'm not safe if I stay in Europe.
- As I said, you need to provide us the name of someone who will take care of you when you return to the U.S.
- If I knew someone like that would I now be applying for an emergency loan?
- Then we can't help you.
- How long would this person have to be responsible for me? My whole life? One year? One month? A week?
- Several weeks.
- And there is no explanation for this demand?
- I don't have to explain.
- Why not?
- It's the rules.
- It can't be. What rule?
- This conversation is over.


A reader of spy stories never thinks life will become one. Of course not. That would take all the fun out of it. You'll understand then that this was not fun:

The appointment was for one pm. I waited outside the steel perimeter fence. Usual crowd of security, plus two additional city police standing immobile just within the fence looking out at me. Only at me. You have to wait, said the Embassy employed local security. After about twenty minutes the Vice Consul arrived from the embassy building, ordered the gate opened, and I was allowed to enter between the two steel fences. There, with the security forces and police and Vice Consul looking on, or staring to be precise, a crowd of about 8 or 10, all within a couple yards of me, I was handed a mobile phone to talk with my brother.

To make it all more incomprehensible my brother was apparently talking from his car using a hands-free system and I couldn't understand more than one word in ten he spoke. After about five minutes of me saying, "I can't hear you, it's all garbled, can you hear me?" my brother said he would put on a headset. He did and I could hear him. He proceeded to ask me questions he already knew the answer to from talking to the Vice-Consul about me: why did I want to go to the U.S.? (I'm American), What I am going to do there? (Don't know), Why I don't stay in Hungary, it's cheaper there? (I'm not Hungarian). He had nothing to respond to my answers. Like filling out a form. Finally I said, Anything else? He asked me what the purpose of the call was. I said I didn't know, he'd have to ask the Vice Consul. He arranged it.

My brother asked me to put the Vice Consul back on the phone. I handed the phone to him and l left the Embassy inter-fence territory. I hadn't spoken a work to the Vice Consul other than, "Here's your phone". I did say to the security forces, "let me out of here!"


According to Wikipedia the political title Consul is used for the official representatives of the government of one state in the territory of another, normally acting to assist and protect the citizens of the consul's own country, and to facilitate trade and friendship between the peoples of the two countries.

Their web site warns Americans that the Consulate does not involve itself with the personal, business, or legal affairs of citizens abroad.

If you would like to talk to the Embassy, not the Consulate, and ask if anyone there knows the Consulate says it actually doesn't do anything other than disperse social security and issue foreigners visas, you will be told you can't talk to the Embassy. Can't talk to the Embassy? / No, you can't.

And when the Consulate forbid me to enter the building - I'd committed the crime of saying they weren't right - they instructed the guards also to forbid me entrance to the Embassy, located on the same building. That can't be legal I complained to the guards outside. / That's our orders. / Who are they? Not even Americans. Let me talk to an American. / You can't. / I can't talk to an American at the American Embassy and I can't enter the American Embassy? / No, you can't.

Next I visit the office of a former American Ambassador.

Next day the application for a repatriation loan is approved. Meanwhile a month has passed and the "arrival address" I had to provide the Consulate, complete with the legally documented occupant of that address (confirmed by consular interrogation) taking financial responsibility for my immediate future, has fallen through.

Next a European native talks on the phone for me with my so-called wife's mother. My mother in law (maybe) tells him I'd been declared missing and a divorce had been issued. I then let the Embassy know this in case they want to find my (impossibly) European-divorced wife and ask her why she left me in troubles they, the government, apparently will spend any amount of time getting out of having to deal with.

Next is Spy vs. spy. The U.S. Government, presently one of my most dedicated readers, site stats. say has just been here where you are now. I see too Israel has had the same idea, reading a post about my attempt to get a visa from them the year before.

Israel also wanted also to know all about my marriage. A Facebook message from the so-called wife had told me our marriage had been annulled, so I told the Israelis that. They said they wanted the papers. I said I had no way of getting them from my disappeared wife, and in any case annulment meant no legal standing thus the marriage should not be their concern.

I explained I didn't know whether there'd really been an annulment or if the original marriage was legitimate. But, I told the Israelis, since all you know about the marriage comes from me I say here and now that all I know about the marriage is that it has no legal standing. Believe it or not I won the battle and the visa was issued, though I never went.

Next imagine the great big U.S. Government reading about this so-called possibly annulled marriage, about my so-called wife, who according to a family friend had newly married in the U.S. "some old man" on the basis of this so-called annulment. Imagine the great big U.S. government throwing up their collective hands in frustration and amazement.

Next the Embassy reverses itself and denies the repatriation loan. Upon reconsideration I do not meet the qualifications.