08 February 2008

Piglet approaches

John Micklethwait 'The View From Abroad: Is America Broken?' (iTunes U, 1hr22min). A very interesting UC Berkeley interview with the still quite new editor of The Economist, John Micklethwait. A must for those who read the magazine. Towards the end of the talk John says that even though China's behavior in places like Sudan is outright criminal, it's important to keep in mind that they are building infrastructure (roads etc) at a time when Western countries are still only talking about doing so. The coming China-US/Europe standoff looks more and more like one of ruthless productivity versus ineffective humanism. Bring it on.

Margret Anderson 'The Re-Discovery of the Irrational- Fin de Siecle Pessimism and the Birth of Psychoanalysis' (iTunes U, 1h17min). An excellent lecture on Fin de Siecle mentality that took me further towards understanding my own hangup on this period. The mentality wasn't an extension of the Enlightenment faith in reason and freedom, it was a rejection of it, but one that, although rejecting of the idea that reason overcomes instinct, nevertheless applied that reason, dare I say ruthlessly (Schopenhauer's eastern influences come to mind), in its epic anti-Cartesian de-throning of humanity, which, through the fundamental realization that unconscious forces are responsible for most of what we do, culminated in psychoanalysis. "Suspect the reasons that people offer for their conduct". (But what about the wars, were they unavoidable, will this mentality always end in hubris?)

Margret starts by exemplifying with art from the time (e.g. Munch's Madonna) focusing on the antagonism between the sexes but also on the early liberation of women through Victorian puritanism. Then goes on to discuss Freud and his predecessors (Schopenhauer and Nietzsche) at somewhat excessive but still interesting lenght.

In other news, power-generating knee and Google, Microsoft, IBM et al have all joined the OpenID initiative that started in June and aims to eliminate the need for separate logins on different webpages. Good good.

Finally, McCain is winning the republican primaries in the US. Here's a less than brilliant but informative debate on him and his politics (FORA.tv, 1h8min).
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