A short holiday

I’m giving myself a holiday. The next two weeks i will be enjoying reading books, working in the garden, cooking and working ahead writing and making posts.

See you again on Monday 28 August.

Salute!

Published on August 14, 2017 at 6:00 by

Language

The beginning of April this year 2017 i made a draft for this post, Language. Today, Thursday 10 August 2017, i opened it once again. There was more text than i remembered. The whole lyrics of the I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke song. The video.

I’d like to buy the world a home
And furnish it with love
Grow apple trees and honey bees
And snow white turtle doves

I’d like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I’d like to buy the world a Coke
And keep it company
That’s the real thing

This song is from “the world’s most famous ad”, released in 1971.

This post is about the use of language in our world today. The old examples i use are to make clear my idea of our current misuse. It seems to me things are getting worse over the past hundred years. Or two hundred years. Or more.

Political language
George Orwell wrote an essay with the title “Politics and the English Language” in 1945. This essay focuses on political language, which, according to Orwell, “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

This essay was the second result in my search for political language. Orwell gives five passages which lighten up then current ways of writing. Five negatives in 53 words, mixed metaphors, meaninglessness, an accumulation of stale phrases and a passage in which words and meaning have no relation with each other.

I am not, indeed, sure whether it is not true to say that the Milton who once seemed not unlike a seventeenth-century Shelley had not become, out of an experience ever more bitter in each year, more alien [sic] to the founder of that Jesuit sect which nothing could induce him to tolerate.

Professor Harold Laski (Essay in Freedom of Expression)

I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Ecclesiastes

This translated into modern English gives:

Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

The last sentence is unreadable. I have read it two three even four times, it still is vague to me.

Orwell gives the following rules for using language clearly.

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

This essay is written 71 years ago. It still sounds right. To me, it seems even more applicable to current political language uses than ever before.

I’m not a fan of Trump. He is a easy target. I’d rather speak about Dutch politicians and their language. But this article published in the New York Times called Trump’s Degradation of the Language is too fitting to this post to leave behind.

“The super-short sentences emphasize certainty and determination, build up layer upon layer, like bricks in a wall themselves, toward a conclusion and an emotional climax. It’s a style that students of rhetoric call parataxis. This is the way generals and dictators have always spoken to distinguish themselves from the caviling civilians they mean to sweep aside.”

Trumps use of twitter is exemplary.

This tweet is amazing.

Everyone knows i am right. This is untrue. Not everyone, a few might agree, but surely not everyone. Robert Pattinson should dump Kristen Stewart. Not sure where this comes from. In 2012 Robert and Kristen were a hot couple. I don’t know where Trump’s feelings about this relationship came from. Talking just for me, i was sort of aware of Kristen’s mingle with a director on a parking place. To me it seems obvious with young people in their early twenties relationships will not last forever.

Another amazing tweet. Trump does put himself in the middle of this world. Why should Apple be upset? Trump hounding them?

These tweets say more about Trump and his world view. It is tempting to go along with this. It gives an amount of certainty. Here is somebody who knows what the world looks like. Knows his place in it. Knows what he is thinking. Knows what is right and what is wrong.

He is wrong though. He does claim a certainty which he simply states himself. But he sees the world only from his own standpoint. Not the standpoint of all the other billions of people.

I still don’t get why people actually voted for Trump. Not that the alternative, Hilary Clinton, is that much better.

Science language
The use of English on Dutch universities, in the humanities and sciences. A Dutch philosopher and writer Maarten Doorman says the following:

‘Tegenwoordig wordt tekst in het Nederlands als minder wetenschappelijk beschouwd dan dezelfde tekst in het Engels. Dat is vreemd. De geesteswetenschappen worden elitair en marginaal wanneer Nederlandstalige artikelen en boeken niet meer mee mogen tellen. Omdat onderzoek steeds meer in een Engelstalige zogenaamde open competitie gefinancierd wordt, is het conformeren aan netwerken belangrijker geworden dan oorspronkelijke ideeën. Die worden gewantrouwd.’

These days a Dutch text is seen as less scientific than the same text in English. That is strange. The humanities are becoming elitist and marginal when Dutch articles and books no longer count. Because research is financed in an English so called open competition, conforming to networks is more important than original ideas. These are distrusted.

This summer there was a scientific program on Dutch television, the mind of the universe. Thirty scientists working in different areas were interviewed. The interviews were connected by Robbert Dijkgraaf. I did enjoy the program. With a critical eye, i have to add. In one episode Pascale Fung working on robotics was interviewed. She is working on emphatic robotic systems. I was surprised. I can see a bit of help there, yes. But i can not see the people themselves being very happy with such a helping hand.

Another article i came across is The empty brain published 18 May 2016 on aeon.co.

Whereas computers do store exact copies of data – copies that can persist unchanged for long periods of time, even if the power has been turned off – the brain maintains our intellect only as long as it remains alive. There is no on-off switch. Either the brain keeps functioning, or we disappear.

This article tracks the metaphors used for working of our human mind. The latest one is the computer. With its hardware and software it is a tempting description of the working of our mind.

But there are many failings in this. We humans, we sleep. We rest our bodies and our minds. We wake up. We watch the world outside us. We look around. We look left and right when we want to cross the street. We move our body. We talk. We smile. We become angry.

Computers do not do this. Computers are on or off. Computer have RAM. Computers use software.

Using the metaphor of a computer actually hinders development.

The $1.3 billion Human Brain Project launched by the European Union in 2013. Convinced by the charismatic Henry Markram that he could create a simulation of the entire human brain on a supercomputer by the year 2023, and that such a model would revolutionise the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders, EU officials funded his project with virtually no restrictions. Less than two years into it, the project turned into a ‘brain wreck’, and Markram was asked to step down.

Advertorial language
April 2017 there was upheaval about a Pepsi ad with Kendall Jenner.

The dystopian read on where brand communication is going is the awful current reality of a post-truth world, where we lie, we create alternate facts, we try to hoodwink the public with artifice, we sidle up to a couple of celebrities, and we hope that 51% of the population like it.

We are so used to the language of big company brands.

“Listerine fights bad breath.”
“Leaves dishes virtually spotless.”
“Supergloss does it with more color, more shine, more sizzle, more!”
“Ford LTD–700% quieter.”
“There’s no other mascara like it.”
“Rheingold, the natural beer.”
“Strong enough for a man but made for a woman.”
“Lips have never looked so luscious.”
“Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.”
“Special Morning–33% more nutrition.”
“The lady has taste.”
“Touch of Sweden: could your hands use a small miracle?”

These quotes show the unfinished half truths and untruths of advertising.

I’d like to buy the world a home
And furnish it with love
Grow apple trees and honey bees
And snow white turtle doves

I’d like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I’d like to buy the world a Coke
And keep it company
That’s the real thing

I’d like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I’d like to buy the world a Coke
And keep it company
That’s the real thing

I’d like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I’d like to buy the world a Coke
And keep it company
That’s the real thing

I’d like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I’d like to buy the world a Coke
And keep it company
That’s the real thing

What the world wants today
Is the real thing

What the world wants today
Is the real thing

A start
The idea for this post came in April 2017. That is when i made the draft for this post. Then i knew i wasn’t ready to write. Not yet. The past week the idea for this post did get more shape.

In this post i do go by on several articles and posts. They touched me.

I am not done yet.

Still, i feel happy. It is a start.

Published on August 11, 2017 at 6:00 by

Ashes To Ashes

Do you remember a guy that’s been
In such an early song?
I’ve heard a rumor from Ground Control
Oh no, don’t say it’s true

They got a message from the Action Man
“I’m happy, hope you’re happy too
I’ve loved all I’ve needed, love
Sordid details following”

The shrieking of nothing is killing, just
Pictures of Jap girls in synthesis and I
Ain’t got no money and I ain’t got no hair
But I’m hoping to kick but the planet it’s glowing

Ashes to ashes, funk to funky
We know Major Tom’s a junkie
Strung out in heaven’s high
Hitting an all-time low

Time and again I tell myself
I’ll stay clean tonight
But the little green wheels are following me
Oh no, not again
I’m stuck with a valuable friend
“I’m happy, hope you’re happy too”
One flash of light but no smoking pistol

I never done good things (I never done good things)
I never done bad things (I never done bad things)
I never did anything out of the blue, woh-o-oh
Want an axe to break the ice
Wanna come down right now

Ashes to ashes, funk to funky
We know Major Tom’s a junkie
Strung out in heaven’s high
Hitting an all-time low

My mother said, to get things done
You’d better not mess with Major Tom

My mother said, to get things done
You’d better not mess with Major Tom

My mother said, to get things done
You’d better not mess with Major Tom

My mother said, to get things done
You’d better not mess with Major Tom

Published on August 10, 2017 at 6:00 by

Game

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Published on August 9, 2017 at 6:00 by

Cleaning

This morning i had to go out sober, with nothing eaten yet, to have my blood pricked. This week on Thursday i have an appointment with my doctor. Walking outside felt wonderful. Sun shining. A bit of wind. A quiet Monday morning.

Back home i made my breakfast. Oats porridge. With a bit of sugar. And some butter. And cinnamon.

This afternoon i cleaned up parts of the kitchen. The kitchen window. The plate rack. The cupboard beneath the sink. The cupboard next to it. Cleaning all the stuff inside. Putting more bowls underneath the sink. Vacuum cleaning my house. It felt good. Singing along with the music. Good too!

Thinking lots. It is becoming clearer. I do hope things will turn out right for me. I do hope i will find what i want to say. What i want to do.

I’m still walking to it. Every day is different. I feel different. Time moves on. Slowly.

I so very much hope.

Published on August 8, 2017 at 6:00 by

Match

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Published on August 7, 2017 at 6:00 by

Dark Enlightenment

A couple of months ago i came across the term Dark Enlightenment for the first time on the Dutch website decorrespondent.nl. I was intrigued. The post, in Dutch, is a short introduction to this movement. Another term for this movement is neoreaction or NRx. It is an antidemocratic and reactionary movement.

There are two main marks for this movement.

  • the West is in decline and democracy is a farce
  • the ‘cathedral’ of media and science needs to be broken down

Wikipedia provides a short page about the term.

Nick Land ‘s name drops often. The name Dark Enlightenment he drops in the essay The Dark Enlightenment.

To my surprise the name Richard Dawkins is mentioned in this essay. I read his book The God Delusion a couple of weeks ago. I got this book from the heritage of my deceased stepfather. Truly, i didn’t enjoy this book that much. It felt to me to be very angry, extremely argumentative in its tone. Not that i disagree with everything he writes. But, i don’t agree with everything either.

Peter Thiel said in the article The Education of a Libertarian the following:

I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.

Truthfully, i don’t reach a conclusion here. I am born in a left wing family. I still feel like that. But my curiosity is peaked. Still, there are many sides to this movement which i don’t like at all. I don’t have a fully formed theory on our world in its current state. I still need to read the articles i linked to in this post.

This post is a link to what i have found so far. As much a reading list for myself as for you.

Published on August 4, 2017 at 6:00 by

The Matrix

The Matrix

Several science fiction creators commented on the film. Author William Gibson, a key figure in cyberpunk fiction, called the film “an innocent delight I hadn’t felt in a long time,” and stated, “Neo is my favourite-ever science fiction hero, absolutely.” Joss Whedon called the film “my number one” and praised its storytelling, structure and depth, concluding, “It works on whatever level you want to bring to it.” Filmmaker Darren Aronofsky commented, “I walked out of The Matrix … and I was thinking, ‘What kind of science fiction movie can people make now?’ The Wachowski Brothers basically took all the great sci-fi ideas of the 20th century and rolled them into a delicious pop culture sandwich that everyone on the planet devoured.” Director M. Night Shyamalan expressed admiration for the Wachowski Brothers, stating, “Whatever you think of The Matrix, every shot is there because of the passion they have! You can see they argued it out!”. Actor and screenwriter Simon Pegg said that The Matrix provided “the excitement and satisfaction that The Phantom Menace failed to inspire. The Matrix seemed fresh and cool and visually breathtaking; making wonderful, intelligent use of CGI to augment the on-screen action, striking a perfect balance of the real and the hyperreal. It was possibly the coolest film I had ever seen.” Director Quentin Tarantino counted The Matrix as one of his twenty favourite movies from 1992 to 2009.

Published on August 3, 2017 at 6:00 by

Tuin op de Hofbogen

Part of the garden on the Hofbogen at the old Station Hofplein is a wild flower and herb field, especially sown a few years ago. These flowers and herbs bloom all around the shrubs and trees planted. The thyme with its pink purple flowers, enjoyed by the bumblebees and honey bees crawling over them. The white and yellow flowers, whose names i don’t know to be honest. The teunisbloem. The poppies flowering in their short lived life in red bloom. Even the thistle looks lovely, with it purple flowers.

We cleaned up the vegetable beds and the round circles around the trees. Around half past two we had a bit of lunch. I had made a courgette gherkin and onion mayo spread and a goats cheese cottage cheese and mayo beetroot spread the day before. It was lovely.

Published on August 2, 2017 at 6:00 by