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robertogreco : lewismumford   6

Fall In | Submitted For Your Perusal
"I’m writing this on the first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere.

Depending upon where you are, it might not feel like fall yet. Right now, for instance, it’s 92°F outside where I live. And humid. More summer than fall. Yet, at the same time, school’s back in session, football is being played, and Halloween paraphernalia is appearing in stores.

The leaves on one of the trees outside my window are starting to change color. Some leaves have even started to fall. It’s getting darker earlier and lighter later. And even though it’s still hot out during the day, it’s cooling down more at night.

Change is in the air.

This leads to a question: Should one also change in conjunction with the seasons? By this I mean more than donning a natty scarf when the temperature drops below a certain level—I mean changing things about the way you eat, sleep, live, and work.

Conventional productivity advice doesn’t really take up this question. One of the things, in fact, that irks me about such advice is that it tends to frame things in terms of daily routines, routines that are ostensibly the same regardless of the season. In other words, most productivity advice is seasonless. Here I’m thinking of things like Mason Currey’s engrossing 2013 book Daily Rituals and Tim Ferriss’s more tech bro-y late-2016 knockoff Tools for Titans.

Now, I’m as interested in famous people’s daily routines as anyone. But at the same time, I feel it’s important to resist the tyranny of “the day.”

What do I mean by that?

Well, we live in a world of seasons—and increasingly more variable and violent seasons at that—but productivity advice seems to always think in terms of the day, the week, the year, or five years, never the season, the sun, and the shadow.

In Lewis Mumford’s endlessly-rich 1937 book Technics and Civilization, he explains how the clock altered human relations by organizing everything around twenty-four little hours instead of, say, the rhythm of the seasons.

The consequences of this, Mumford argues, are profound:
When one thinks of the day as an abstract span of time, one does not go to bed with the chickens on a winter’s night: one invents wicks, chimneys, lamps, gaslights, electric lamps, so as to use all the hours belonging to the day. When one thinks of time, not as a sequence of experiences, but as a collection of hours, minutes, and seconds, the habits of adding time and saving time come into existence.

Because of the clock, Mumford continues, “Abstract time became the new medium of existence. Organic functions themselves were regulated by it: one ate, not upon feeling hungry, but when prompted by the clock: one slept, not when one was tired, but when the clock sanctioned it. A generalized time-consciousness accompanied the wider use of clocks: dissociating time from organic sequences….”

Since we all pretty much live according to “clock time” now, the autumnal equinox presents us with an opportunity to cast off our Apple Watches and reflect on some of the benefits of living according to what might be called “seasonal time.” To that end, I encourage you to step out of “clock time” and into “seasonal time.”

This will, no doubt, strike some as unappealing. Many people see nature as something to overcome or counteract, not as something to flow with or submit to. For others, it will be impossible. “Clock time” is simply imposed on them too strongly. But if you can do it, even just a little bit, I strongly recommend it, if only for the perspective it brings.

To quote Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To every thing there is a season.” What if we took that adage seriously, not just by buying pumpkin spice lattes but by doing key things in a more fall-like way? Fall-like might take different forms. The point is to embrace fall in particular and seasonal change in general. I’m definitely not recommending becoming “Mr. Autumn Man”. I’m talking about something else, something deeper.

One example I like is how novelist Lee Child sits down every September and begins work on a new Jack Reacher novel. He finishes up sometime the following spring and then spends the rest of the year doing other stuff—stuff like spending the entire month of August on vacation. (I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty nice.) Note, too, that this routine produces a book a year. (As someone who writes much more slowly, this sounds pretty nice to me as well.) And Child has been doing things this way since the late 1990s. (For more on Child’s process, see Andy Martin’s Reacher Said Nothing: Lee Child and the Making of Make Me.)

Fall is a time to write for me as well, but it also means welcoming—rather than fighting against—the shorter days, the football games, the decorative gourds. Productivity writer Nicholas Bate’s seven fall basics are more sleep, more reading, more hiking, more reflection, more soup, more movies, and more night sky. I like those too. The winter will bring with it new things, new adjustments. Hygge not hay rides. Ditto the spring. Come summer, I’ll feel less stress about stopping work early to go to a barbecue or movie because I know, come autumn, I’ll be hunkering down. More and more, I try to live in harmony with the seasons, not the clock. The result has been I’m able to prioritize better.

And yes, fall for me also means some of the stereotypical stuff: apple picking, leafy walks, we’re even trying to go to a corn maze this year.

In sum, as the Earth wobbles around the Sun, don’t be afraid to switch things up. I can’t promise an uptick in productivity, but when you think of things in terms of seasons instead of a single day, the entire year becomes your canvas."
mattthomas  seasons  routine  2017  tempo  change  writing  work  productivity  rhythms  lewismumford  timferris  clocks  time  fall  autumn  clocktime  nature  calendars  leechild  nicholasbates 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Towards a Bright Mountain: Laudato Si’ as Critique of Technology | boundary 2
"Throughout Laudato Si’, Pope Francis praises the merits of an ascetic life. And though the encyclical features numerous references to Saint Francis of Assisi, the argument is not that we must all abandon our homes to seek out new sanctuary in nature, instead the need is to learn from the sense of love and wonder with which Saint Francis approached nature. Complete withdrawal is not an option, to do so would be to shirk our responsibility – we live in this world and we bear responsibility for it and for other people. In the encyclical’s estimation, those living in affluent nations cannot seek to quietly slip from the scene, nor can they claim they are doing enough by bringing their own bags to the grocery store. Rather, responsibility entails recognizing that the lifestyles of affluent nations have helped sow misery in many parts of the world – it is unethical for us to try to save our own cities without realizing the part we have played in ruining the cities of others.

Pope Francis writes – and here an entire section shall be quoted:
“Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change. We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone. This basic awareness would enable the development of new conviction, attitudes and forms of life. A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal.” (Francis, no. 202)

Laudato Si’ does not suggest that we can escape from our problems, that we can withdraw, or that we can “keep calm and carry on.” And though the encyclical is not a manifesto, if it were one it could possibly be called “The Bright Mountain Manifesto.” For what Laudato Si’ reminds its readers time and time again is that even though we face great challenges it remains within our power to address them, though we must act soon and decisively if we are to effect a change. We do not need to wander towards a mystery shrouded mountain in the distance, but work to make the peaks near us glisten – it is not a matter of retreating from the world but of rebuilding it in a way that provides for all. Nobody needs to go hungry, our cities can be beautiful, our lifestyles can be fulfilling, our tools can be made to serve us as opposed to our being made to serve tools, people can recognize the immense debt they owe to each other – and working together we can make this a better world.

Doing so will be difficult. It will require significant changes.

But Laudato Si’ is a document that believes people can still accomplish this.

In the end Laudato Si’ is less about having faith in god, than it is about having faith in people."
laudatosi'  popefrancis  zacharyloeb  2015  technology  lewismumford  jacqesellul  economics  environment  via:audreywatters  nature 
july 2015 by robertogreco
BBC - Blogs - Adam Curtis - HAPPIDROME - Part One
"In the battle for Kobane on the Syrian border everyone talks about the enemy - IS - and the frightening ideas that drive them. No-one talks about the Kurdish defenders and what inspires them.

But the moment you look into what the Kurds are fighting for - what you discover is absolutely fascinating. They have a vision of creating a completely new kind of society that is based on the ideas of a forgotten American revolutionary thinker.

He wanted to create a future world in which there would be no hierarchies, no systems that exercise power and control individuals. And the Kurds in Kobane are trying to build a model of that world.

It means that the battle we are watching night after night is not just between good and evil. It is also a struggle of an optimistic vision of the future against a dark conservative idea drawn from the past.

It is a struggle that may also have great relevance to us in the west. Because the revolutionary ideas that have inspired the Kurds also shine a powerful light on the system of power in Britain today. They argue that we in the west are controlled by a new kind of hierarchical power that we don’t fully see or understand.

There are two men at the heart of this story.

One is the American revolutionary thinker. He is called Murray Bookchin. Here is a picture of Bookchin looking revolutionary.

The other man is called Abdullah Ocalan. He is the leader of the Kurdish revolutionary group in Turkey - the PKK

Here he is in 1999 after he had been captured by Turkish security forces and was on his way to a jail on a tiny island in the Sea of Marmara where he would be the only prisoner.

In his solitude he would start to read the theories of Murray Bookchin and decide they were the template for a future world.

Both men began as hardline marxists.

Murray Bookchin was born in New York in 1921. In the 1930s he joined the American Communist Party. But after the second world war he began to question the whole theory that underpinned revolutionary marxism.

What changed everything for him was the experience of working in a factory. Bookchin had gone to work for General Motors - and he realized as he watched his fellow workers that Marx, Lenin and all the other theorists were wrong about the working class.

The Marxist theory said that once working men and women came together in factories the scales would fall from their eyes - and they would see clearly how they were being oppressed. They would also see how they could bond together to become a powerful force that would overthrow the capitalists.

Bookchin saw that the very opposite was happening. This was because the factory was organised as a hierarchy - a system of organisation and control that the workers lived with and experienced every second of the day. As they did so, that hierarchical system became firmly embedded in their minds - and made them more passive and more accepting of their oppression.

But Bookchin didn’t do what most disillusioned American Marxists in the 1950s did - either run away to academia, or become a cynical neo-conservative. Instead he remained an optimist and decided to completely rework revolutionary theory.

Here is Bookchin in 1983 talking about how his thinking became transformed - and how his factory experiences led him towards anarchism. It’s part of a fantastic film called Anarchism in America - as well as Bookchin it’s got a great bit with Jello Biafra, and it’s really worth watching if you can get hold of it.

[video]



Watching these sections of the film does make you think that what is being described is spookily close to the system we live in today. And that maybe we have misunderstood what really has emerged to run society since the 1980s.

The accepted version is that the neo-liberal right and the free market triumphed. But maybe the truth is that what we have today is far closer to a system managed by a technocratic elite who have no real interest in politics - but rather in creating a system of rewards that both keeps us passive and happy - and also makes that elite a lot of money.

That in the mid 1980s the new networks of computers which allowed everyone to borrow money came together with lifestyle consumerism to create a system of social management very close to Skinner’s vision.

Just like in the mental hospital we are all given fake money in the form of credit - that we can then use to get rewards, which keep us happy and passive. Those same technologies that feed us the fake money can also be used to monitor us in extraordinary detail. And that information is then used used to nudge us gently towards the right rewards and the right behaviours - and in extremis we can be cut off from the rewards.

The only problem with that system is that the pigeons may be getting restless. That not only has the system not worked properly since the financial crash of 2008, but that the growing inequalities it creates are also becoming a bit too obvious. The elite is overdoing it and - passive or not - the masses are starting to notice.

Which makes the alternative - the vision put forward by Lewis Mumford in the film, and which inspired Murray Bookchin - and the Kurds, seem more interesting as an alternative.

Here is Mumford from the film. He starts by criticising the managed utopia - how it turns people into sleepwalkers. He has a great quote:

“You reward them. You make people do exactly what you want with some form of sugar-coated drug or candy which will make them think they are actually enjoying every moment of it.

This is the most dangerous of all systems of compulsion. That’s why I regard Skinner’s utopia as another name for Hell. And it would be a worse hell because we wouldn’t realise we were there.

We would imagine we were still in Heaven.”

Mumford then goes on to describe eloquently the alternative, a system of direct democracy where we would all awake and become genuinely empowered - able to take part properly in deciding our destiny.

It is a powerful and optimistic vision of a new kind of progressive politics. But it has one very serious problem.

It means we would have to spend a lot of time going to meetings."
anarchism  2014  kurds  iraq  kobane  isis  murraybookchin  abdullahocalan  labor  marxism  hierarchy  hierarchies  horizontality  anarchy  oppression  revolution  optimism  jellobiafra  capital  capitalism  wagelabor  work  power  control  bfskinner  economics  domination  exploitation  gender  socialism  liberation  lewismumford  utopia  politics  oligarchy  neoliberalism  elitism  conditioning  compulsion  autonomy  behaviorism  hermankahn  hudsoninstitute  technocrats  1983  technocracy 
november 2014 by robertogreco
"Fleeting pockets of anarchy" Streetwork. The exploding school. | Catherine Burke - Academia.edu
"Colin Ward (1924–2010) was an anarchist and educator who, together with Anthony Fyson, was employed as education officer for the Town and Country Planning Association in the UK during the 1970s. He is best known for his two books about childhood, The Child in the City (1978) and The Child in the Country (1988). The book he co-authored with Fyson, Streetwork. The Exploding School (1973), is discussed in this article as illustrating in practical and theoretical terms Ward’s appreciation of the school as a potential site for extraordinary radical change in relations between pupils and teachers and schools and their localities. The article explores the book alongside the Bulletin of Environmental Education, which Ward edited throughout the 1970s. It argues that the literary and visual images employed in the book and the bulletins contributed to the powerful positive representation of the school as a site of potential radical social change. Finally, it suggests that “fleeting pockets of anarchy” continue to exist in the lives of children through social networking and virtual environments that continue to offer pedagogical possibilities for the imaginative pedagogue."



"Paul Goodman’s work had particular relevance to the development of ideas expressed in Streetwork. Through his fiction, Goodman developed the idea of the “exploding school” which realised the city as an educator. Playing with the notion of the school trip as traditionally envisaged, he created an image of city streets as host to a multitude of small peripatetic groups of young scholars and their adult shepherds. This image was powerfully expressed in Goodman’s 1942 novel, TheGrand Piano; or, The Almanac of Alienation.

Ward quotes extensively from this novel in Streetwork because the imagery and vocabulary so clearly articulate a view of the city and the school that is playfully subversive yet imaginable. In a dialogue between a street urchin and a professor, Goodman has the elder explain:
this city is the only one you’ll ever have and you’ve got to make the best of it. On the other hand, if you want to make the best of it, you’ve got to be able to criticize it and change it and circumvent it . . . Instead of bringing imitation bits of the city into a school building, let’s go at our own pace and get out among the real things. What I envisage is gangs of half a dozen starting at nine or ten years old, roving the Empire City (NY) with a shepherd empowered to protect them, and accumulating experiences tempered to their powers . . . In order to acquire and preserve a habit of freedom, a kid must learn to circumvent it and sabotage it at any needful point as occasion arises . . . if you persist in honest service, you will soon be engaging in sabotage.

Inspired by such envisaged possibilities, Ward came to his own view of anarchism, childhood and education. Sabotage was a function of the transformational nature of education when inculcated by the essential elements of critical pedagogy. In this sense, anarchism was not some future utopian state arrived at through a once-and-for-all, transformative act of revolution; it was rather a present-tense thing, always-already “there” as a thread of social life, subversive by its very nature – one of inhabiting pockets of resistance, questioning, obstructing; its existence traceable through attentive analysis of its myriad ways and forms.

Colin Ward was a classic autodidact who sought connections between fields of knowledge around which academic fences are too often constructed. At the heart of his many enthusiasms was an interest in the meaning and making of space and place, as sites for creativity and learning."



"Fleeting pockets of anarchy and spaces of educational opportunity

The historian of childhood John Gillis has borrowed the notion of the “islanding of children” from Helgar and Hartmut Zeiher as a metaphor to describe how contemporary children relate, or do not relate, to the urban environments that they experience in growing up. Gillis quotes the geographer David Harvey, who has noted that children could even be seen to inhabit islands within islands, while “the internal spatial ordering of the island strictly regulates and controls the possibility of social change and history”. This could so easily be describing the modern school. According to Gillis, “archipelagoes of children provide a reassuring image of stasis for mainlands of adults anxious about change”.

Since the publication of Streetwork, the islanding of childhood has increased, not diminished. Children move – or, more accurately, are moved – from place to place, travelling for the most part sealed within cars. This prevents them encountering the relationships between time and space that Ward believed essential for them to be able to embark on the creation of those fleeting pockets of anarchy that were educational, at least in the urban environment. Meanwhile, the idea of environmental education has lost the urban edge realised fleetingly by Ward and Fyson during the1970s. Environmental education has become closely associated with nature and the values associated with natural elements and forces

If the curriculum of the school has become an island, we might in a sense begin to see the laptop or iPad as the latest islanding, or at least fragmenting, device. Ward and Fyson understood the importance of marginal in-between spaces in social life,where they believed creative flourishing was more likely to occur than in the sanctioned institution central spaces reflecting and representing state authority. This was, they thought, inevitable and linked to play, part of what it was to be a child. The teacher’s job was to manage that flourishing as well as possible, by responding to the opportunities continually offered in the marginal spaces between subjects in the curriculum and between school and village, city or town. They believed that such spaces offered educational opportunities that, if enabled to flourish through the suggested pedagogy of Streetwork and the implications of the exploding school, might enrich lives and environments across the generations. It was in the overlooked or apparently uninteresting spaces of the urban environment that teachers, with encouragement, might find a rich curriculum. Today, we might observe such “fleeting pockets of anarchy” in the in-between spaces of social media, which offer as yet unimagined opportunities and challenges for educational planners to expand the parameters of school and continue to define environmental education as radical social and urban practice."
colinward  cityasclassroom  anarchism  tonyfyson  streetwork  2014  catherineburke  education  unschooling  deschooling  1970s  society  theexplodingschool  children  socialnetworking  pedagogy  johngillis  urban  urbanism  islanding  parenting  experience  agesegregation  safety  anarchy  sabotage  subversion  autodidacts  autodidacticism  criticalpedagogy  childhood  learning  paulgoodman  freedom  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  cities  resistance  questioning  obstructing  obstruction  revolution  lewismumford  ivanillich  paulofreire  peterkropotkin  patrickgeddes  autodidactism  living  seeing  nationalism  separatism  johnholt  youth  adolescence  everyday  observation  participatory  enironmentaleducation  experientiallearning  place  schools  community  communities  context  bobbray  discovery  discoverylearning  hamescallaghan  blackpapers  teaching  kenjones  radicalism  conformity  control  restrictions  law  legal  culture  government  policy  spontaneity  planning  situationist  cocreation  place-basededucation  place-basedlearning  place-based  place-basedpedagogy 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Lewis Mumford - Wikipedia
"Mumford believed that what defined humanity, what set human beings apart from other animals, was not primarily our use of tools (technology) but our use of language (symbols). He was convinced that the sharing of information and ideas amongst participants of primitive societies was completely natural to early humanity, and had obviously been the foundation of society as it became more sophisticated and complex. He had hopes for a continuation of this process of information “pooling” in the world as humanity moved into the future.[2] Mumford's choice of the word "technics" throughout his work was deliberate. For Mumford, technology is one part of technics. Using the broader definition of the Greek tekne, which means not only technology but also art, skill and dexterity, technics refers to the interplay of a social milieu and technological innovation - the "wishes, habits, ideas, goals" as well as "industrial processes" of a society."
architecture  civilization  technology  language  communication  culture  lewismumford  tcsnmy  lifeofpi 
march 2010 by robertogreco

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