Saturday, April 10, 2010

Why the Internet Exists

Here.


UPDATE: Here!!!!

36 comments:

Dan said...

I’ve never knowingly heard a song by ‘Insane Clown Posse’ before, but this song is largely admirable in its sentiments.

It is very easy to be cynical and just take the world for granted, seeing it as hard, cold, material, prosaic, merely ‘scientifically explainable’. However it also possible to see the world as a wonderful, amazing place. As a miracle. You do not have to adopt a theistic stance – there is no intimation of theism in the song. Keats and Wordsworth did not need to cite God in order draw attention to the wonder of the world, either. And Keats famously criticized those whose scientism makes them unable to appreciate the wonder of the natural world, & who attempt to ‘unweave the rainbow’.

It is great that a band like Insane Clown Posse is drawing kids’ attention to the wonder of the world. Trying to get them to look at it afresh with open, innocent eyes. Rather than the tired, taking-for-granted cynicism of people who think they are clever.

Of course, that people think they are clever, does not mean they are. The person who put up the above Facebook page thinks that the page that he linked to http://www.howmagnetswork.com/ explains how magnets work. It does not. Here is the nearest it gets

‘How is a magnetic field created? When current flows in a wire, a magnetic field is created around the wire. From this it has been inferred that magnetic fields are produced by the motion of electrical charges. A magnetic field of a bar magnet thus results from the motion of negatively charged electrons in the magnet.’

This runs together electromagnets and bar magnets. An electromagnet is produced when a current flows through a wire; but there is no such current flow in a bar magnet – so what is going on there? Furthermore, with regard to an electromagnet the text does not explain how (by what process) the motion of electrical charges creates a magnet field. I’m not sure whether even scientists fully understand this. Anyone reading this know? No I thought not.

Anonymous said...

I'm more concerned with Pelicans that eat cell phones.

and the sentiment that 'scientists are lying' and you should simply believe in miracles/magic is NOT a good one. As in, which makes more sense for believing in miracles? Creationism or real science?

Anonymous said...

How the earth's magnetic field is generated, and why the north and south poles periodically switch, certainly is not understood.

Though even if it were, it would still be possible to see the earth's magnetic field as 'wonderful' or 'miraculous' in the sense intended above. Just as it is possible to see the rainbow as wonderful, beautiful & miraculous, yet still, when in a different frame of mind, explain how it is generated.

Dan said...

I know someone who saw a pelican eat a pigeon in St James Park (which adjoins Buckingham Palace).
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/6083468.stm

I hadn’t caught the line about scientists, and concede that it detracts from the song. Shame. However the rest of the song still seems admirable; and given the aim of the song is to encourage the listener to appreciate the world and see its wonder in contrast to having a cynical scientistic worldview, maybe we can cut Insane Clown Posse some slack for attacking scientists – just as we do Keats.

I don’t hear anything connected to creationism.

Anonymous said...

I love blackened swordfish. And I love chocolate chip cheesecake. I do not like them put together into a blender.

Fiddy Cent meets Pagliacci. Now THAT is DOOM!

English Jerk said...

I beg you in the name of my entire discipline, please stop comparing Insane Clown Posse to Keats!

729 said...

^^^^^^^

(also why the internet exists)

If you want a better poet to compare to ICP, stick with William McGonagall.

Dr. Killjoy said...

I humbly recommend for an illustrative contrast ICP's masterpiece "Fuck the World".

Meno said...

English Jerk & 729,

What's wrong with comparing ICP to Keats (even supposing Keats is great and ICP is repellent, as it plainly is)?

Dan said...

English Jerk, your post had me in stitches! :-)

I of course make no comment on the respective artistic merits of Insane Clown Posse and Keats.
I just think having a sense of wonder at the world is really important - fundamental. And it is good that a band – especially a band like ICP – is encouraging it.

Considering how important wonder is, there seems to be very little philosophical work on it. I have just started reading ‘Wonder, the rainbow and the aesthetics of rare experiences’ by Philip Fisher, which is good so far. And I have read a bit by Robert Fuller on Wonder. Anyone got any other recommendations?

729 said...

Meno, you got a problem with William McGonagall?

Meno said...

729,

Meno, you got a problem with William McGonagall?

Lol. Not at all.

Glaucon said...

Insane Wordsworth Posse:

The world is too much with us, late and soon -- so fuck the world.

English Jerk said...

O Meno:

What's wrong with comparing ICP and Keats is that it results in a gratuitously charitable reading of ICP (elevating them to the level of a Hallmark card) and a catastrophically reductive reading of Keats (dragging him down the level of a hallmark card). People always seem tempted to extract lines like "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever" or "More happy love, more happy happy love" and to take them as pearls of wisdom. But any careful attention at all to the poems from which these lines are taken will reveal them to be fraught with bewildering tensions and complexities. Keats is one of those poets who gets more and more perplexing the closer you examine him. Attention to those perplexities is part of what it means to read a poem as a poem, not as a communicative act. To do otherwise is simply a category mistake.

To put it another way, it's a bit like quoting "To thine own self be true" at people as a piece of advice. Whatever the virtues of the sentiment, it surely matters that these words are part of a string of platitudes from Polonius, who is a blowhard, a schemer, a pretentious twit--in short, the Fool.

Anonymous said...

taking things out of context is also why the internet exists.

Honestly, ICP (and this argument) is a reason to abandon the Principle of Charity, if there ever was one. But for those who want to pursue the ICP corpus, as J says, the Dark Carnival is your invitation. So go do some more digging. If you want to maintain that ridiculous position that this song is anything but stupid.

I find it interesting that it qualifies as a miracle that Violent J's son looks just like him...when you paint his face.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the sentiment is a good one, but if everything is a miracle, then who cares? And I never learned about miracles in school:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUZJOlZWrrM

(@2:20- seems relevant to the Keats/ICP dispute)

Bryan said...

Dan: viewing the world as "scientifically explainable" *is* viewing it as a wonderful, amazing place. A teacher of mine liked to say that the real world is much wilder and more beautiful than any invention of a magic mongerer. How better draw kids' attention to the wonder of the world than through science? Ok, maybe you're interested in aesthetics, since you're citing Keats -- but part of appreciating beauty certainly involves seeking to understand its source. Just crowing that the world is an unexplainable-innocent-miracle is counter-productive, no matter who you are.

I'd suggest you do a little more reading about electromagnetism before you complain too much. EM effects are arguably the best-understood phenomena in all of physics. Electromagnetism admits various candidate ontologies, which I assume is what you want when you ask "by what process" an electromagnetic field is created. For example, on a QED account, EM fields fundamentally express the statistical behavior of interactions involving the exchange of photons. The question of the *correct* ontology for electromagnetism is an important open question being debated by philosophers and philosophers of physics -- and I suspect most other readers of this blog *do* already know that.

729 said...

@Meno: Drats! You got a lot out of those lessons with Gorgias.

Anonymous said...

I second abandoning the Principle of Charity.

http://www.viceland.com/int/v14n10/htdocs/land_of_juggalos.php

An excerpt: "OK,” he said. “You want to be looking to the front and to the back the whole time. You’re going to be getting slammed with bottles of Faygo from the stage and shit from the rest of the crowd behind you at the same time, and people are going to be riding up on top of you. It’s pretty much going to be a full-on warzone.” He was literally dancing in place with excitement.

Anonymous said...

In other news, Hitch and Dawkins are gonna arrest the Pope.

Dan said...

Bryan, yes, science is wonderful. But to do science is not (per se) to see science as wonderful. You can do science without seeing science as wonderful. Likewise to scientifically analyse a rainbow is not (per se) to see the rainbow as wonderful. And I take it that experiencing the beauty of science is different to seeing science as wonderful.

In my post I was simply trying to emphasis the importance of wonder. And to say that it is good if those who influence pop culture encourage wonder. Even if (as I am now informed is the case with ICP) they have done other things which are detrimental to pop culture.

Finally, I know that we can make excellent predictions of electromagnetic phenomena. However, my point in the last part of my original post was that the question ‘Magnets, how the fuck do they work’ (a lyric that had been poked fun of in the page linked to in Spiros first post) is not an unreasonable one. Magnets are pretty amazing. And most people, including most philosophers, do not know that according to Quantum Electrodynamics (as you report) ‘EM fields fundamentally express the statistical behavior of interactions involving the exchange of photons’, and as you say, no one knows the correct ontology.

imipolex-g_unit said...

I don't see that a sense of wonder is intrinsically valuable. If it's wonder experienced after one has made a good faith effort to understand what there is to understand, then that's cool. But the deliberate cultivation of ignorance just to sustain a sensation of whoa-dude-far-out-ness strikes me as something we need a lot less of.

In summary: fuck the insane clown posse.

PA said...

NOTE: the title of Spiros' blog post was "Why the Internet Exists" not "Why ICP Exists."

Meno said...

English Jerk,

Ah, I see. Yeah, that makes good sense.

Meno said...

English Jerk,

Ah, I see. Yeah, that makes sense.

English Jerk said...

Meno:

It didn't sound good the second time round?

Anonymous said...

English J.,
You know Meno. He's always getting that deja vu feeling.

729 said...

English J: Anadiplosis

English Jerk said...

729:

Why is it that all rhetorical terms sound like diseases? Like

"Oh, I've got an antimetabole in my left knee--or was it my right?"

or

"I caught syllepsis from my roommate, and now nothing agrees with me."

Let's hope that Meno doesn't succumb to this anadiplosis, or we'll have to make a bumper-ribbon in his honor.

Anonymous said...

"It is through wonder that men now begin and originally began to philosophize; wondering in the first place at obvious perplexities, and then by gradual progression raising questions about the greater matters too, e.g. about the changes of the moon and of the sun, about the stars and about the origin of the universe. . ."
* * *
"It is necessary, however, for the possession of it [i.e., knowledge] for us to settle in a certain way into the opposite of the strivings with which it began. For everyone begins, as we are saying, from wondering whether things are as they seem, such as the self-moving marvels, or about the reversals of the sun or the incommensurability of the diagonal… But it is necessary to end in what is opposite and better, as the saying goes…"

-Aristotle, Meta., 982b & 983a

Anonymous said...

But does the internet REALLY exist?

Anonymous said...

Reduced: whether the "miraculous" is a miracle (in the sense of an unexplainable phenomenon) or a miracle (in the sense of wonder). In other words, shall we look at this exchange between the artists and the philosopher/scientists as a disagreement, or as alternate definitions of the same terms "wonder" and "miracle"? Should we understand how the artist looks at the scientist, or how the scientist looks at the artist?

The artists say in this work "I don't want to talk to a scientist" to explain what, without explanation, is "wonder-full" and the scientists say "it's not wonder-full, it's explainable." They're talking past each other.

I agree with Dan that the sense of wonder, or the miraculous, is an admirable trait to promote in the general population (especially in a scientific culture). It brings balance against the view that the only reasonable response to a magnificent event is to explain it, and once it's explained, there is no further dimension to consider such as its aesthetic beauty or sheer magnificence, as if there is no such thing as magnificence (or awe and wonder). The artists are rebelling (too anti-intellectually, but that is poetic license as much as anything) against a strictly utilitarian or functional view of nature. And the phi/scientist who lampoons that is rebelling against the anti-intellectualism rampant across the voxpop culture.

What's interesting is that "wonder" survives a 400-year march of science into modern human consciousness, and still "wonder" surfaces repeatedly and irrepressibly in our culture as a yearning for enjoyment of nature, rather than explanation. Science, strictly done, is spare and acerbic, minimalist and unembellished. Art, strictly done, is effusive, receptive, and mythical. If we ever lose the mythical aspect of our vision of the world, our respect for nature will disappear -- it IS disappearing -- into the dry sand of utility, in which anything not "useful" to human beings has little value and need not be preserved (much less venerated). So what's a few eagles, compared to a lice-free humanity? On that measure, what are a few million people, compared to preserving all the scientists? Reverence, awe and wonder are not rational, but they may be crucial to our survival as a species. Let the artists celebrate "wonder." They are only asking for some space for human spirit in a world where "spirit" is called, scientifically, nothing real.

eddie said...

Wow, a hot new volume in the "Philosophy and Popular Culture" series is materializing right in front of us. Make sure Spiros gets the credit he deserves!

Anonymous said...

And Spiros just demonstrated something f***** miraculous about the internet. His kickoff post consists of exactly three words. LOL.

Anonymous said...

And only TWO types....

Anonymous said...

SNL kills it, for once, with the "Thrilla Killa Klownz" (scroll to the bottom):
http://jezebel.com/5519861/snl-forget-the-skits-keha-and-the-astronauts-stole-the-show