Computer game; video game; or game (genera)

The phrase ‘video game’ really doesn’t seem to refer anymore. It seems to be a term that show’s one’s age more than anything. To refer to a classic like Metal Gear Solid, or Super Mario as a video game shows one’s age and disposition to being a luddite.

The phrase ‘computer game’, by contrast, has a similar air, of a more partial luddite. Almost as if referring to a computer game is by an outsider to being a serious gamer, or a gamer or game developer/promoter who is making a product saleable to an unknown audience.

If I just said game; for instance, I am playing this awesome game at the moment, depending on the presuppositions of the speaker, can be an acceptable, and perhaps, favourable expression. To say ‘game’, almost presupposes a computer game.

However, what is a good term for a game (computer)? Games can be handheld, console, or pc/linux/mac. What is a good expression for a game, that is non-loaded?

Sinistre*

Blog topics: questions of genre?

What is a good subject for a blog? Well a question of literary style on a blog is a meta-topic, a metatopic is quite a philosophical way of looking at things, and the very fact I question blog writing style from time to time on a blog is like a mirror being put up on itself (a sense of irony, and I suppose, breaking the metaphorical fourth-wall).

I suppose the answer is: a good topic for a blog is whatever the hell you want; but, the answer to this latterly thought is what becomes constitutive of the blog’s style. Say for instance, i was interested in sex a lot, and there are a lot of sex blogs, or sex worker blogs, or culture blogs out there. Sinistre would not admit this, but he has quite a penchant for male fashion and grooming blogs, for instance: fashion blogs for men at their best look at not exactly celebrities, but famous men with style. Having a certain style is a psychology; to be refined (or unrefined) in dress reflects on a person. Someone who likes boho chic (I fucking hate boho chic despite my sister’s obvious love for it), represents a mindset or a set of ideals shared by others (of course a question-begging premise).

Talking about whatever you want is like a friendship, there are formative moments in a friendship which define the kind of relationship you have. I am defining the relationship I have as Antisophie, the author, with you, the reader, by talking about whatever I want under this name. Friendships are defined, structured and formed by the kinds of topics we share in conversation and interest. Likewise, we enforce these kinds of relationships by maintaining those topics consistently. I have friends I talk to about fashion, men’s sexy bodies, and chocolate; then I have a different set of friends I talk to about philosophy (and within that, people who want to talk about normative philosophy; metaphysics almost completely on its own; or people, like Michael, who just always relate things to single topics or issues [like Kant]).

I like to have stuff on my RSS feeder to read for a few minutes every day: Slashdot, Stuff White People Like, Mimi in New York, or Leiter Reports. These blogs, by the kinds of posts they put forward, set the tone for what they want to talk about. Ruth Fowler’s blog began as a story about her stripper job after she did her MPhil at Cambridge; concerning the clientele and honesty of being a stripper, and recently there are political and social elements to the story: recent posts concern the USA presidential election, or the bleak life of drugs, parties, and sex. I think Mimi’s blog is a fine example of the genre; especially in the way that she becomes self-referential (sometime when the blog got popular, she got a book deal, and did many interviews and newspaper pieces) without being indulgent. By contrast, a blog like ‘Stuff White People Like’ is consistently cynical, often funny, and generally single-topic (namely, Stuff White People Like).

I suppose I have two thoughts or questions to which I cannot answer:

1. When is a blog post uncharacteristic?

Like friendships, there are some issues which people don’t talk about, many relationships or dynamics exclude certain topics as acceptable topics for conversation. I would never talk about my sex life to my parents, for instance. Some people feel that politics, religion, mental health, money, or family are non-topics; by contrast, those things may be the only topics of conversation. When the taboo issues come up in friendships, or conversations, and blog posts, there seems to be a discomfort.

Even when the uncomfortable side of life becomes the set topic of conversation, the taboo becomes the positive and normal things of life. Eternal Tears of Sorrow could never get away with a song about the joy of casual sex, or the importance of one’s parents.

2. Talking too much

This is one I probably am quite bad at, an Ideal to which I fall short of (despite many devices that I use). Sometimes talking too much about an issue can be a bore. If you hate someone, going on about it all the time is not just unhealthy, its unoriginal and thus uninteresting. If you find innovative ways of hating someone, maybe that’s okay.

I’ve read some blogs where the same topic goes on and on, but it is done in a very well-written way. Others (they tend to be younger females, I’ve noticed), write very badly. I guess it is a thing about upbringing (to which I can admit that my Jesuit/Nunnery/Colonialist upbringing had counteracted): girls not only moan a lot (that’s not a bad thing), but they do it in a way that is bad writing (that is the bad thing).

Good writing is selective, when I get up in the morning I go to the toilet and brush my teeth and put some foundation on, then I check out the news, my mail and then…It’s only interesting if there is a point to be made.

Say for instance I went to a dentist, okay, that’s boring: but make it topical, make it applicable, make it unique:

…there have been studies in Game Theory, Social Psychology, Decision Theory and Artificial intelligence that tell us about behaviour in waiting rooms…

…the nature of the waiting room: the generic magazines about celebrities, the anonymity of the people in the room, possible embarrassment [applicable for GUM clinics, for instance], stigma [maybe at a mental hospital]. Talk about sociological or psychological issues…

…the woman with the red jacket that looks like a petticoat. Was she hot? Was she a fucking whore? Was she a typical person? Was she a nobody, and yet an every body? Was she stylish at appearance but lacked elegance in every other respect. DIGRESS. Some people can’t understand the importance of digression, I, for one, find that the most important things I have to say are by digression, or meandering, or preamble. Going directly at something is boring, and not only that, uninteresting as a conversational piece, as an argument, and indicative of boring mindsets. Start off with a joke, an intuition, an anecdote, a study, something!

Sometimes an alarm bell rings off when I see a badly written blog; I think it is a waste of time to read and I unsubscribe from it. But the one morbid thing I find fascinating is analysing in my own mind why it is a bad piece of writing, and often I find it to be endemic of bad writing in general. I always seem to want to find a higher genus concept to the single species instantiation as integral to a classificatory and explanatory schema…Oh bother! I sound like Michael now!!!…. 😉

Antisophie

Philistinism

I would quite dislike a world ruled by philistines:

i. Where a non-philosopher would teach arguments for the existence of God
ii. Where someone without a sense of history would be a politician
iii. Where an artist or writer cannot look to the past, or the present, or even the future, for a source of influence, but be stuck in a moment of a style, which may or may not have passed a long time ago
iv. Where targets are a priority over concern and human interpersonal contact.
v. Where skill is seen as a threat, and not a virtue
vi. Where the best orator wins, and personal attacks are currency
vii. Where training is a distraction
viii. Where the closed-minded and unimaginative cannot see the potential for creativity or connection in the pursuit of the non-task. It is in the serf that the Romantics reintroduced folk culture; it is in the proletariat’s tragedy of war that the most sophisticated of composers found inspiration in the early 20thC; it is in nature where those greatest natural scientists found divinity; it is in the seemingly irrelevant that we can find the most eloquent and succinct exploration of our most relevant concerns and interests.

All too often I hope for the Nietzschean superman to find rule, in disdain and disgust of the very flock they object. It is, the one who is entirely delved in the most fundamental of skills and arts, I think, who would be the one that pushes those who appeal to their position rather than their inner skill, to challenge their very existence.

Antisophie (and Destre)

1. The line between the will of the masses, and democratic justice, is made when the democratic body opposes the mass.

2. Sudden changes, when it comes to our governance, economies, and social systems, lead to instable societies, governments and economies. Institutional features ought to cope with changes by slow change…(of course there may be exception)

3. A talent show is not a popularity contest. For if the former becomes the latter, genuine ability is stained by the desire of the masses

4. No one should care what your opinion is, or whether you are entitled to it. Unless you are right, or give me reason to reconsider or evaluate one’s own considerations, our views do not meet

5. The paradox of being inclusive is that we must accept the intolerant with open arms, lest we ourselves be closed minded.

Antisophie

Alienation from one’s ends

Often I have come across the thought that being alienated from one’s ends is absurd, or rather, in some way incomprehensible.

What would this phrase possibly mean? Here are some interpretations:

1. To be alienated from your ends is to not act in accordance with your prima facies motivational states, those being desires, beliefs, and other such attitudes and epistemic states which form our preferential set.

Response: our percieved ends do not necessarily need to be our actual ends. There are many cases of self-deception, or simply not being aware of one’s ends. Nussbaum gives an example in Flawed Crystals (or is it The Golden Bowl?), where the Henry James character kept his feelings of love hidden from himself, only by discovering it, is it instantiated. But it was, however, hitherto unawares to the agent.

2. To be alienated from your ends is not to act in accordance with things in your preferential set?

Response: This requires clarification, what exactly does this mean? Surely there is always a case where there is an ellipsis to one’s own ends?

Response*: Consider the case of carrying out posthumous tasks. Perhaps for instance, you have a friend who tended to a garden, or campaigned against noise pollution; perhaps you, the agent, have no interest in these activities. You might even hate gardents or enjoy the late night party with loud music; such that pursuit of these ends are contrary to your own motivational set. If this is the case, does it look like there is an alienation of one’s ends? Perhaps.

But there is still an ellipsis. Conflicting desires are not a sufficient condition of alienation, nor are they necessary. Most preferences we have may have conflicting desires. I may desire to lie in bed for a few minutes, this may lie against the desire to get to work early, or get more work done, or curb one’s own laziness. The desire to have a lie-in for a bit longer may also be strong, so strong to overwhelm one’s pre-existent motivations. A conflict is not a sign of alienation.

Destre

Two questionable instances of permissable action

I want to consider two cases wherewhich we may find it difficult or perhaps immoral for someone to legitimately practice an activity. I want to think harder about it and perhaps change my mind about the prima facie perception that it is immoral.

Case 1: Ridiculous spenders

It is highly immoral, that, during our hard economic times, where people are losing jobs, finding it hard to make the breadline, and businesses are struggling, that there are those with ridiculous wealth that are keen to spend it on whatever they want, even if it includes fanciful and ridiculous and seemingly insulting activities.

Consider for instance, if someone was so rich, that they bought enough dye to fill an elevator with blood to imitate the scene from The Shining, or bought a mountain of Mars bars and then destroyed it, or bought a car made of gold (funny enough these do exist).

Thesis: We might think what ridiculous and insulting behaviour. We might think that these people are being socially irresponsible insofar as food is a valuable commodity, or their action shows their wealth while others are currently struggling to feed themselves. Indulgence, as an attitude, we might even say, is an affront to any kind of progress.

Antithesis: If more people buy, then others have the oppurtunity to sell. If no one buys, no one can sell. Consumer behaviour, no matter how indulgent (perhaps you might even say especially when indulgent) helps the economy, a ridiculous purchase may get commission, helps a store, helps an employee, helps a company, helps its workers, helps their families. So long as people spend, others earn. So long as others earn, we can all keep spending. The lingering question is obviously to whom the buck ends, but if we keep passing, that seems far from inert.

Case 2: Charlatan or Philistine behaviour

Consider the person who represents the dignity, integrity and other such virtues of their craft. The watchmaker represents the elegance, innovation, and individuality of human creation over factory production; the virtuoso musician represents the perseverence of practice and fine technique, individual, yet respectful and indebted to her history.

What if a watchmaker had a crappy casio watch? What if a virtuoso listened to philistine music? The contestation of their character is in the ideals that link to their activity, and the ‘off-stage’ item or practice that opposes it.

Thesis: this opposition of value endorsement shows inconsistency and a failure in character.

Antithesis: there may be some secondary adjudstments made before the rationalisation of the aforementioned offensive practice. Perhaps a distinction between the sacred and the profane (some people, for instance, distinguish between fucking and making love, playing and ‘performing’, singing and ‘reciting’)

[Edit: this is a fragment article]

Sinistre*

Does it stain his work?

This story that came out today I find particularly provocative. I happen to think that some of Gary Glitter’s songs are classics of their era, definitive of glam rock and used very often in hockey games and the like as intro music. From that, that does not infer that I approve of what he has been convicted of. You’d need some very odd inferential scheme to infer that.

Does his criminal behaviour undermine this?

The examining board thinks so.

Antisophie

Two thoughts on scholarly literature

Concerning the Textbook

Like wikipedia, it is a good sign of a textbook to be uninteresting, yet informative. By uninteresting, I mean that the knowledge within the text can be found in similar books. A textbook on quantum mechanics should contain enough material to teach the basics, or perhaps even the advanced-level nature of the work, but not engage in controversy by means of taking a position that is unique of one against many, or some against others; but to teach the nuts and bolts of a position.

We can learn of a theory without the theorists or the theorising. Such is the work of a textbook.

Two remarks follow from this: firstly, this would mean that the textbook has a priviledged kind of knowledge, a medical textbook is practical to teach someone about a particular area of medicine, perhaps it may contain excercises, or further references. But the textbook, whether good or bad, or whether it has a particular focus or not, is dispensable to other ones. The textbook has a priviledged knowledge insofar as its content is taken fro granted by the experts of the topic. It allows one to learn the established notions, principles, laws, and propositions of a discourse. Nothing contraversial should really be in a textbook, and perhaps, nothing that is brand new (and consequently, contraversial).

I consider this point because I am aware of the Cambridge edition of Kant’s writings, that has been worked on for a long time (by the likes of Paul Guyer, Allen Wood, Henry Allison, Karl Ameriks etc…). Kant scholarship is a dull and painful literature, and Kant’s own writing is all the more painful (but occaisionally fun). Apparently, after the Second World War, there has been the benefit, and the unfortunate situation of both the discovery of hitherto unkown works, and destruction of original and uncategorised texts. One of the texts found is an introductory metaphysics textbook by Baumgarten.

Back in Kant’s day, people were increasingly worried by the increasing uncertainty of philosophy that was put by the very fact of disputation, such as between (in epistemology and metaphyics), empiricist (and largely British) philosophy, against rationalist (and continental) systems of thought. It seems like a common conception of philosophy to see it as disputing what is fundamentally disputable; and as such,  no real certainties can ever come to be. The idea of a ‘textbook’ on metaphysics, therefore, has a lot of redundancy, except, of course, for the teaching of a course, or a specific thinker or issue.

Scholia

The obvious import of this is the notion of talking about what counts as an accepted scientific theory, or a practice, when teaching to schools. We might, for instance, teach the basics of general relativity to children, due to the large concensus of it; or we may make a pragmatic rationale and teach mechanical physics that is a dummy version of the classical Newtonian programme. What we then find as we come up to learn more about physics, is that the dummy model that we are taught is increasingly wrong, but more subtly expressed. This sounds about right for being a scholar, and marks the difference between knowing enough for application of a theory (when we presuppose something that grounds engineering prospects or software design, for instance), compared to advancing the techniques of the underlying discourse itself.

Concerning public access

As someone who often reads historical philosophy, translation issues are very close to mind. With Nietzsche, for instance, early 20thC translations are influenced by Hegelianism, and the notorious association of being anti-democratic and German during the runup to the two world wars, as well as the influence of some antisemites after the death of Nietzsche. Having a textually sensitive, yet historically accurate, and a secondary concern, readable in the nuances of the langauge of translation.

While there are various trends of late, such as the Gutenberg project, wikitexts, Librivox, and other such public access literature; it is certainly a great thing that the old works can be accessible to the public at large. Books are, in my life, the best kind of friend a person can have, I own very few things (in an attempt to embrace the virtue of poverty [the celebacy ideal failed quite hurrendously]), but the one thing I do hold on to are books. I love used books, I love cheap books, I ADORE free books (which are quite common outside university departments or closing offices!).

On the one hand, its always a best idea to know the original language, and better still, the cultural context. When I read Nietzsche as a teenager, I, with my very intense schooling, was able to understand the very subtle jokes (e.g. “only the English seek happiness” [a comment about ethical theory]), but many references such as these can be missed. When reading Kant, for instance, an understanding of Aristotle can give quite an interesting reading that shows nuanced affinities between the two (such as the notion of the categories [cf. Korner]). On the other hand, it is of great cultural benefit that anyone can have access to the works of the past.

Consider the “New Atheism” for instance, many people think that they have interesting things to say, and yet, have no idea about key works in the history of atheism and secularism, consider for instance, l’Encyclopedie, Hume’s Diaglogues, Montaigne’s Essays, Spinoza’s Political Treatise (which I must say, is the most fascinating and in my view, intuitive and difficult statement of secularism). Those new to atheism, and the intellectual history of it, can easily come to access some of the great works.

From a scholarly point of view, however, there is a necessary elitism about translation issues, and textual issues in interpretation,  that require some serious publishing houses to invest in scholarly work. Open-access literature has its worth, but it is for intellectual tourists at best.

Jonathan Bennett, for instance, has a website with his own translations. I’m a bit torn on whether these are good. While Bennett is a fine scholar (Kant, Hume, Locke, Spinoza), and a philosopher in his own right, he is one of those philosophers who are dismissive or are not keen on playing up the historical issues of exegesis, this is not a bad thing (in some respects it is my favoured writing style of scholarship), but this comes at the cost of appearing ignorant, purposely or unpurposely, to the subtle issues of historical import. The good aspect of the Bennett reading, however, is that it considers philosophical notions in terms of contemporary (and thus more strict and critical) standards. Bennett as a translator seems an unusual choice, given his particular angle. Some of his translations on Kant make me somewhat uncomfortable, but then again, I can only seem to get into the unreadable (and thus accurate to the German) translations.

Michael