Given the data, [a trio in 2010] concluded that social scientists could not possibly have picked a worse population [(educated Western people)] from which to draw broad generalizations. Researchers had been doing the equivalent of studying penguins while believing that they were learning insights applicable to all birds.
Returned to this after a first read. Still quite good.
And here is the rub: the culturally shaped analytic/individualistic mind-sets may partly explain why Western researchers have so dramatically failed to take into account the interplay between culture and cognition. In the end, the goal of boiling down human psychology to hardwiring is not surprising given the type of mind that has been designing the studies. Taking an object (in this case the human mind) out of its context is, after all, what distinguishes the analytic reasoning style prevalent in the West. Similarly, we may have underestimated the impact of culture because the very ideas of being subject to the will of larger historical currents and of unconsciously mimicking the cognition of those around us challenges our Western conception of the self as independent and self-determined.
Years ago a friend of mine had a dream about a strange invention; a staircase you could descend deep underground, in which you heard recordings of all the things anyone had ever said about you, both good and bad. The catch was, you had to pass through all the worst things people had said before you could get to the highest compliments at the very bottom. There is no way I would ever make it more than two and a half steps down such a staircase, but I understand its terrible logic: if we want the rewards of being loved we have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known.
Great stuff. Perfect for a strange, solipsistic ride home on the subway this evening.
I know this sense of possession is absurd. But I also know where it comes from. To live in New York is to constantly be a borrower. I’m not talking about money here, although that is part of it too. Instead, it’s the fleeting sense of possession that imbues living in the city. That table at a nice brunch place? That patch of grass in the park? That seat on a crowded cross-town bus? It’s only yours briefly and often hard-fought too. Even the peace of your apartment is only yours until that neighbor of yours starts blasting his music (or your neighbor rings your doorbell because your kids are playing too loudly).
Who hears you? We live inside each other’s thoughts and works. You build yourself out of the materials at hand and those you seek out and choose, you build your beliefs, your alliances, your affections, your home, though some of us have far more latitude than others in all those things. You digest an idea or an ethic as though it was bread, and like bread it becomes part of you. Out of all this comes your contribution to the making of the world […]
“A document of the famous ‘Fastnacht Festival’, which literally translates to ‘the night before fasting’, a festival celebrated throughout Austria and Switzerland. The annual adornment of masks that are inherently frightening and grotesque stems from the aim of chasing away ‘the spirits of winter away in preparation for the coming spring and new harvest’. The carnival-like festivities stem from both Christian and Pagan traditions.”
My family and I moved from our Seattle home yesterday.
Right before we locked the front door, I paused and looked around, marveling at all that had happened during our seven years there. It was where our son spent the first year of his life, where he took his first steps and said his first words. It was where we tearfully put our ailing 16yo Lhasa Apso to sleep. Two marriages took place in our backyard and at least one relationship began. We hosted big Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners, New Year’s Eve celebrations, bridal showers, fundraisers, birthday parties, surprise parties and parties for no reason at all. Our greenhouse and vegetable garden produced enough canned goods to last us all year, and our hot tub provided a welcome relief from dreary Seattle winters. We jumped to host overnight guests often, thrilled to be able to repay a kindness we’ve been shown over the years. I spent more hours than I can count curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and a good friend, or watching our resident hummingbirds through the giant picture window. It’s a great house.
Love this, Lisa. Your house became a happier, more comforting place than my own house. I’ll miss it, too, but we’ll be back there someday.
A doctoral student in Duke’s music department, Swartzel came to classical music early in life, but not because his parents were musicians who played Beethoven on the family turntable. His light bulb went on over the course of so many Saturday mornings watching professional wrestling, the theatrical, testosterone-laced soap operas that rose to national prominence in the 1980s.
Wrestlers have larger-than-life personas, and many use classical music as part of their grand ring entrances. One of the most recognizable was the golden-haired, perma-tanned Flair, whostrutted to the ring in flowery, ornate robes as “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” a soaring classical composition by Richard Strauss, blared.
This is awesome: Duke PhD project based on classical music in pro wrestling, w/ action figure-based video. http://t.co/CRy0FtApwz
[Tammam] Azzam achieved more fame than nearly any other Syrian artist since the start of the revolution this February, when he created a piece that overlaid Gustav Klimt’s seminal “The Kiss,” in which a couple shares an idealistic kiss, against a photo of a destructed street in Douma. It was part of a series featuring famous works by Van Gogh, Matisse, Dali and even Andy Warhol, set against destroyed locations in Syria.
As to why “The Kiss” went viral? “Maybe people need love more than war right now. But I preferred the Goya [the Spanish artist’s “Third of May, 1808” against a demolished city street]. I think it shows what’s happening in Syria more than the other one does.”
Images: “The Kiss” (top) and “Third of May, 1808” (bottom) by Tammam Azzam, via SyriaDeeply. Select to embiggen.
“David took a long sip of his drink. He wanted to close his eyes as the cool burn ran down the back of his throat, but he was afraid of appearing too satisfied in front of Agnes while they were fighting. Instead he stole a glance at her. Her eyes were focused on the table. Her face had hardened. She looked exactly like her mother, he thought hatefully: a deadly, beautiful queen, the skin stretched smooth and thin and cold-looking over her forehead, the blue eyes unapproachably clear and deep, the fine, thin-boned jaw set precisely, the spine erect, the shoulders thrown back. Then her eyes flashed at him under the bright fluorescent lights, and he felt his stomach churn with fear.
“‘I wonder if I’ve ever seen you uglier,’ she said quietly.”