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Artyom's links – January 30, 2020

Artyom's links – January 30, 2020
By Artyom Kazak • Issue #3 • View online
I just realized that this should properly be called “Artyom’s progress” since I don’t want to post random fun links here – only stuff I actually care about figuring out. I will rename it starting from the next issue.

This is not related to any of the links below, but I wrote a post: Against being a “blogger”. I keep wanting to “write interesting things” and nothing comes out of it – while goals like “explain X to person Y” or “write things down so that I understand them better” work much better. So now I’m trying to entirely give up on the goal of “writing interesting things” and switch to a mix of “figure things out” and “find like-minded people”. Maybe something else as well.
You should already know about legibility (Seeing Like a State and all that) – but if you don’t, read Scott’s excellent review of the book. Roughly speaking, first you replace illegible, “organic”, traditional things with legible, “scientific”, rational, modern things. Then everything goes to shit.
[Enlightenment rationalists] came up with a better idea: clear all the forests and replace them by planting identical copies of Norway spruce (the highest-lumber-yield-per-unit-time tree) in an evenly-spaced rectangular grid. Then you could just walk in with an axe one day and chop down like a zillion trees an hour and have more timber than you could possibly ever want.
This went poorly. The impoverished ecosystem couldn’t support the game animals and medicinal herbs that sustained the surrounding peasant villages, and they suffered an economic collapse. The endless rows of identical trees were a perfect breeding ground for plant diseases and forest fires. And the complex ecological processes that sustained the soil stopped working, so after a generation the Norway spruces grew stunted and malnourished.
The claim is that the same happens with anything, not just forests. If you try to build a “rational” city, it will fail just as hard. (But read the review for the actual examples!)
The Meridian of Her Greatness goes further: not only do planned “rational” improvements fail, but the market society itself fails in the same way. Namely, it creates a huge incentive for people not to have rich social lives – e.g. if you don’t have a network of friends in %your city%, you get access to a much wider job market because you can move anywhere you want.
So, assuming that rich social lives are important to people, the better/smoother your markets are, the closer you get to a society where everyone is wealthy and nobody is happy. Oops.
(Also see: Age of Em.)
Are there any solutions? Mediocratopia does not offer one, not for the society at large, but it does say what you personally should aim for:
A finite game is when you play to win. An infinite game is when you play to continue the game. Non-attachment to a finite game means being free to reject both winning and losing. This generally happens when you are able to see and choose ways to keep the infinite game going that are orthogonal to the win/loss logic of a particular finite game. This posture can look like betrayal, cowardice, or choking to those who are attached to a particular finite game, which is why the connotations of mediocrity are invariably negative for finite gamers. […] Mediocrity is a leap of faith that there’s more to life than whatever is going on right now. Whatever the hill, odds are, it’s not the one you want to die on.
I’m not sure I’m getting it. But it seems to be: play for fun, don’t play to win. (Sounds like it goes against Play in Hard Mode, but.. does it?)
Oh, and then there is something called Game B, which I found just two hours ago. I’m rather conflicted about this one. On the one hand it sounds implausible and occasionally pretty weird – but on the other hand it mentions a bunch of interesting things: embodied knowing, Integral Theory, personal sovereignty, etc. I’ll probably eventually figure out if it makes sense or not.
Finally, a post where the title actually hints at what the post is about (refreshing!): Why white people can’t dance: they’re traumatized. It sounds plausible insofar as I am white, scared of dancing, and can relate well to “a state of disconnection between mind and body” as described by the post. But I don’t have much more to say, other than – hey look, the dance is actually pretty cool!
Rashaad and Future (Assassins) | The 4th Annual Original Boogaloo Reunion BBQ | Funk'd Up TV
Rashaad and Future (Assassins) | The 4th Annual Original Boogaloo Reunion BBQ | Funk'd Up TV
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