attending to the shadow of living and learning on the web



“Habits . . . reduce man to the status of a conditioned automaton. The creative act, by connected previously unrelated dimensions of experience, enables him to attain a higher level of mental evolution. It is an act of liberation – the defeat of habit by originality.” Arthur Koestler

Belief Through Others


“Belief more than ever, we just invented something absolutely breathtaking. Beliefs, in order to function to operate, have to be first person beliefs.  We can literally believe through others. You know you know the formula of parents, we are atheists but not to disappoint our children we pretend to believe. You know, the Santa Claus story . You ask a parent do you believe in Santa Claus? Are you stupid? Of course not. I buy the presents, but I pretend it for my children. You ask the children. Do you believe? They say, no. We pretended not to disappoint our parents. What is my point here? You have a belief which is nobody’s belief, nobody believes it in the first person. Yet it fully functions as social belief. Here you did a mega contribution. By ‘you’ I mean the United States. You here in Hollywood. Your greatest contribution to 20th century world culture I would claim, I’m sorry my old joke, is canned laughter.  Are you aware what a strange phenomenon this is? You return in the evening home, you open up stupid show like Friends or Cheers, and you are too tired to laugh. You just look. And the TV set laughs for you! It works, at least with me. Afterwards I feel relieved as if I was laughing! So much about primitive people! We have traditional examples of this, the Buddhist prayer where you write  the prayer you put it there and turn the wheel. You can think about pornography or whatever, but in reality you are praying. We are same! This is canned laughter. And I claim that beliefs function in a strictly homologous way. What we need is not belief in the first person. We need to believe that there is someone who believes; even if that someone is purely hypothetical.  An example; Roberto Benigni’s film, I don’t like it, ‘La vita e bella’ or ‘Life is beautiful’. You know the story father and son are taken to Auschwitz. Father, in order  to protect son from the trauma, tells him a bullshit story. That this is not really prison it is just a big competition site where you we can leave whenever we want. But if you remain to the end there will be a big price and so on and so on. What would have been a way to make it a much better  and desperate film? That the father were to discover at the very end, when he is to be shot, that the son knew all the time. He  just he pretended to believe his father so as to protect him. This would be the proper Christian reversal as it were. The actual movie is not strong enough. ” Slavoj Zizek

Social Networks then and now

As is often the case with my learning online many paths start with a tweet.

In my digital storytelling work I have of late become interested in Twitter Bots. There are wonderful bots as well as crappy spam ones. Just as in the rest of life amongst humans. Some make art for you, others poetry, and yet others make a fine go at sounding wise mediated by text at least, like @everyadage above. I have made several posters illustrating the sayings as they are in that uncanny valley space of almost making sense and that interests me.

The saying made me stop and reflect. The sense it made for me was in connection with the light and shadow side of groups of people who come together to learn (apologies for the long description but other terms such as communities, connections or networks come with too much baggage for my purpose here) in open online learning events. I have written before and often about the implications of a free-for-all ethos where no social or psychological contract is agreed upon or followed through by participants or facilitators.

Continue reading “Social Networks then and now”

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