Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Pause for Art

For your viewing pleasure, Thomas Cole's "Course of Empire" series of paintings. Niall Ferguson had a long and well-worth-reading piece describing the Course of Empire and his views on our current situation. He focuses on complexity and rightly (in my opinion) disparages the post hoc ergo propter hoc "historical" stories we tell ourselves about events after they occur.

From a Socionomic point of view, think about what stories these societies were telling themselves during each phase and how each phase was viewed once mood changed.

The Savage State.

The Arcadian State.

The Consummation of Empire. It sure has been fun - for the Empire. Maybe not so much for those on the periphery...

The Destruction of Empire.



David said...

"post hoc" stories. BRILLIANT!! I had not quite thought of things this way before, but that's precisely the "standard model" of causality socionomics undercuts.

Do you ever get the mental image that despite our suits & ties, our flashy automobiles, our cell phones and jet planes that humans are still a tribe of savages sitting around the campfire (TV) as the shaman spins us a tale of how the sun god brought droughts because he was angry over the burning of branches? Having fully embraced the logic of socionomic theory, everything I see/hear/read now looks exactly like this to me as soon as I see past the micron-thin facade of modernity behind which is resides.

It's not that the post-modernists were right; it's the "post-hoc"ists whose stories are the sea in which we all swim, and how do we discuss the concept of "being wet" with a fish?

Flagg707 said...

Discussing "being wet with a fish" is a great way of putting it. We are all prisoners of a system. A few of us are at least trying to get a feel for where the walls and guards are.

David said...

"wall and guards."

This parallels my view that learning is like standing in a huge, darkened warehouse with a flashlight. I can see a small area around me and only sense the size of the full room. Learning gives me a brighter flashlight so I can see more of the room...but by doing so it simply informs me that the darkness beyond actually occupies a space far larger than I had previously imagined. Thus is the paradox of knowledge: The more I know, the smaller is my share of total knowledge.

Life is lived in a sea of ignorance, and the wiser we become, the more we realize how little we understand. Thus do we recognize that those who profess to hold the greatest knowledge are the least wise among us.

Rather than prisoners in a system, I prefer to carry that analogy of the warehouse. I cannot hope to light all the space around me. I can only work diligently to clear my eyes of illusions and light enough of the floor to navigate the safest, happiest path available while avoiding the pitfalls and traps into which those around me inevitably fall. With luck I will avoid a premature trip into the abyss, and with the best of luck I'll pass along my navigation tips to my children.