Sooner or later we will all be monetizing ourselves on the Web. Such arrangements as this will be omnipresent and refined. Everyone will be able to produce something real and use virtual means to market it. I plan to experiment to see what works. This is part of that experiment.
Values and the Future (Revaluation of Values) is now available at the Kindle Store
Nietzsche said revaluation of values is the supreme task of the philosopher. Nietzsche called philosophers lawgivers. And yet the world continues to operate as though values were not something we are called to revise, develop, enunciate. The position of these recent reflections is allied with Nietzsche. The values suggested are vastly different from the usual, traditional pantheon.
It seems we are in a sort of dog days situation. Everything moves on but a lot of the news is warmed over mishmash, much of it distraction or irrelevant. For example, I have decided not to Tweet, or give any notice otherwise, to the antics around certain book promotions and similar distractions.
Here is one thing I feel is important that I wish became news.
The need to come up with a revaluation of both design and architecture.
I think both these fields are dens of narcissism where adulation of designers and architects takes the place of serious analysis of how wretchedly these sectors tend to serve the rest of us.
There is first the issue of costs.
Architects and designers who are venerated ordinarily work not for the people but for the rich and their products are rationalized as being useful some way or another.
But far more serious is the underlying idiocy of the current concentrations.
Architects (I should include planners, urbanologists and other related “specialties”) are so wed to the past that all they can do is variations on it. These are worse and worse, not because they do not have the requisite frills and improvements, but because they do not break out of the box they are in.
The box has to do with the shape of a green urbanized ecumenopolis-type world in which the primacy of the pedestrian becomes normative. Christopher Alexander and his concept of democratic participation in building settlements and dwellings needs to be more accepted. The ascendancy of the automobile must be understood to be a terminal state.
Much more of this thinking is stated in my pattern language posts.
Some years back, there was a lot of reimagining going on. I think the notion of reimagining is a box in itself. Nietzsche correctly understands that the true creative revolution lies in the revaluation of values. Not in reimagining things.
When we talk of such things as design and architecture we are challenging the underlying values of these worthy enterprises. Values of nonidolatry, tolerance, democracy and helpfulness are typically given lip service while other more traditional values remain operative. In the case of design and architecture these values include, in no particular order:
and so forth.
This is the traditional and still dominant culture that gave us the twin towers (which may be venerated now but not for their original structure), metrosprawl and, I would argue, the context for our economic meltdown.
By simply misunderstanding the purpose of their fields, design and architecture help foster massive unsustainability, depersonalization and destruction of community values (gemeinschaft — Tonnies).
Inner Directed Design — A Nod To Christopher Alexander http://ow.ly/lkUS
Christopher Alexander ends by saying,
“Do not be tricked into believing that modern décor must be slick or psychedelic, or “natural” or “modern art” or “plants” or anything else that current taste-makers claim. It is most beautiful when it comes straight from your life – the things you care for, the things that tell your story.”
Twitter No Treat To The Colorblind
I have had it with Twitter profile pages that are designed so they are unreadable to the colorblind. If you have text make it black. If you have sidebars make them light enough so that the black text shows. Anyting else is a no-no. End of rant. I cannot follow sites designed to be unreadable.
Are We In A Permanent Recession?
Matthew Yglesias writes:
… if the recession ends, then it seems likely that we’ll slip right back into a new recession. I wish that weren’t the case, and that everyone would just react to an oil price spike by biking to work, but realistically we don’t seem to have made nearly the scale of adjustments that would be necessary to let the country shrug off a return to oil that costs over $4 a gallon. SOURCE
In essence he is saying what we should have known when Frank Lloyd Wright wrote, wrongly, that we would all plant vegetable gardens in our suburban lots. Mother earth incarnate. No takers.
My impression is that Yglesias is all for some incremental moves that would signal some acknowledgment of the need to move beyond slavery to an oil economy. But he also knows that incremental moves will not achieve the change that is called for by the current crisis.
The perfect storm in the world is created by the collision between finite oil and continued slavery to the notion of private automobiles. Both these forces create a dysfunctional society that eats away at the possibility of a humanity that is not itself profoundly dysfunctional.
At the center of what is dysfunctional is the suburb which is entirely subservient to the requirements of the car. The combined costs of the car, the detached house and the costs created by reliance on the automobile is indeed the origin of a permanent recession. This is why there has been no bounce-back in valuation of either cars or detached houses. In essence, these are becoming less and less marketable.
The solution to this conundrum would be simple enough if our vaunted designers and architects and planners could do what Wright failed to do — stop being naive about human nature and stop building the car into everything. In fact, eliminate the car from the areas where people live. And reintegrate into living areas all the institutions and services needed to create well-rounded lives.
The thought of Christopher Alexander and the constellation of ideas we associate with the phrase pattern language is the answer to the economic crisis which is at bottom not economic but evolutionary.
Seen differently. we are not in a permanent recession but in the throes of a move in the market away from what hurts us to what helps us. It is that simple. What helps us is not something we can buy with money but what we can earn by the application of common sense and some smarts to the problems we face.
I have more than once insisted that things are working reasonably well considering. I assume the untold story now is the number of entrepreneurial and visionary sorts who are completely content with the fact that the jobs that are vanishing need not come back.
The first things they think about are values. What in god’s name will people pay for these days? People will pay for comfort and health but these are no longer to be identified with houses and cars. They are identified with new forms of dwelling and new forms of transportation. It will be hit or miss for a while but a transition from ownership to renting is a hint in the right direction.
Values — what people want is a chance to enjoy public space without being placed in an interminable line, subject to mayhem and hassling and feeling lost in a crowd. Where are the visionaries and entrepreneurs who will put this value into practice by advocating for and creating decent new public spaces where people can sit in some security and enjoy the passing scene?
I have pattern language posts here with tons of specific ideas that suggest new products and economies, but all I am hearing is restarting so we can have more of the same — cars and single homes scattered from here to the far reaches of Mongolia. We are not in a credit crisis. We are in an idea crisis.
We get the jobs back by letting go and putting our minds to work. We acknowledge that there are already people working to create a new way of living. We give up cautious capitalism for adventurous investment in real things that are on the ground. We acknowledge that the market is working fine. When we say no, it means that we want something else. People cannot spend for what is not being offered. Where there is no vision people perish.
We give up on the idea that we just need to get credit flowing. What we need to get flowing is ideas and visions. Let’s stop living on credit and live on new values that raise us from lemming status to something a trifle more dignified.
Please read Our Crisis Is Not Economic for context.