Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Facebook failures

The line between what belongs on a blog and what belongs on Facebook can be hard to discern, but I've been neglecting this place a bit lately and some things I have posted to Facebook have been more or less ignored, so I'll try them here. One's an essay by Schopenhauer, one's a New York Times story that raises issues about politics, religion, and psychology, and one is just a cool video (but, as I recall, it is very cool).

Here's Schopenhauer, which I found via Brain Pickings, although now I suspect I have read it before. His views are similar to Orwell's, and I wonder whether Wittgenstein read this essay. Here's the bit that stood out to me:
[...] Goethe’s naïve poetry is incomparably greater than Schiller’s rhetoric. It is this, again, that makes many popular songs so affecting. As in architecture an excess of decoration is to be avoided, so in the art of literature a writer must guard against all rhetorical finery, all useless amplification, and all superfluity of expression in general; in a word, he must strive after chastity of style. Every word that can be spared is hurtful if it remains. The law of simplicity and naïveté holds good of all fine art; for it is quite possible to be at once simple and sublime.
Here's the Times story. Unfortunately it's presented as a story about those crazy foreigners, but there's far more to it than that. This will hopefully give a sense of what it's about:
These days, when neak ta [local guardian spirits] appear on the factory floor — inducing mass faintings among workers and shouting commands at managers — they are helping the cause of Cambodia’s largely young, female and rural factory workforce by registering a kind of bodily objection to the harsh daily regimen of industrial capitalism: few days off; a hard bed in a wooden barracks; meager meals of rice and a mystery curry, hastily scarfed down between shifts. These voices from beyond are speaking up for collective bargaining in the here and now, expressing grievances much like the workers’ own: a feeling that they are being exploited by forces beyond their control, that the terms of factory labor somehow violate an older, fairer moral economy.  
Finally, here's the time-lapse video of Earth as seen from space: