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The Limits of Human Scale


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#21 PRCD: Death (and Taxes)

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 10:02 PM

View PostPLEASUREMAN, on 14 March 2010 - 07:32 PM, said:

View Postisamu, on 14 March 2010 - 07:10 PM, said:

Catal Hoyuk is about 32 acres, so with the low estimate of 5,000 people, that's 100,000 person/sq mi, higher than present day Bombay.  And Catal Hoyuk existed for around 2,000 years. ( http://en.wikipedia....i/Çatalhöyük )

Current worldwide densities:

http://www.citymayor...ensity-125.html

I can't see how you can attribute US social pathologies primarily to population density, since they're not particularly extreme.
I don't, and this point was already addressed in the passage I quoted discussing conceptual space.  It is a combination of population density, ethnic diversity, and a large overall increase in complexity of society that appears to be the source of the social pathologies we are currently seeing.  Some of those are also driven by a concentrated cognitive elite, which one would expect to have compounding effects (more extensive assault on traditional behaviors, greater status anxiety, and so on).

These factors and the anxiety they produce feed into consumerism, materialism, spiritual impoverishment, deviant sexual behaviors, increased female aggression/male passivity, more hostile winner-takes-all competition, etc., which takes us to the society we have now.  Note that many of these symptoms exacerbate this anxiety as well.

Societies that have retained a strong uniform cultural identity and traditional behavior will of course have more leeway when it comes to population density.


I think the conceptual space is imploding rapidly before our very eyes. The liberal shift to "homeschooling IS NOT JUST FOR FUNDIES" is evidence that they're bailing the ship they've sabotaged (count the number of references to diversity, btw):
http://www.salon.com...ol_3/index.html

One of Dimitry Orlov's readers sent this in and I think it's true.  We're moving to a post-USSR style implosion of conceptual space:
http://www.businessi...ng-feral-2010-3

Even Red China has more conceptual space than us:
http://www.businessi...jobs-are-2010-3

#22 PLEASUREMAN

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Posted 19 March 2010 - 02:48 PM

Copying this from the thread on genital decoration because it equally applies here:

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Dysfunctional sexual dynamics (female aggression, hypersexuality) are predicted by Calhoun's rat experiments.  That's what I believe we are seeing here:  pathological behavior that is the result of human psychology being overwhelmed by overly complex social interactions (the conceptual space is exhausted).  I believe that "transgressing the boundaries" happens due to anxiety over social roles and a perceived lack of order.

The anxiety isn't necessarily conscious.  It's often difficult to determine one's own long-term emotional state (such as depression), so the anxiety can persist for a long time and work its influence before its effect on behavior is identified.  I think the anxiety comes across as a sense of meaninglessness or disconnectedness, and that the ordinary coping behavior consists of thrill-seeking and self-pacification (aggression or passivity).  Obviously this will include increased focus on transient pleasures at the expense of forming stable, long-term attacmhments--remember, the anxiety seems to foreclose refuge in stability because it is produced by instability.

Durkheim identified economic success as a destabilizing condition, however I think he needed to go back farther and look at the motives for pursuing lavish wealth.  It is a form of resource over-hoarding which is in itself pathological.

Today's sexual mores don't surprise me.  They are a dramatic change from my adolescence in the 80s but they perfectly fit the conditions we are now in.  I believe that the bombardment of diversity messages in the media has heightened to a pitch some of this anxiety and the feeling of crowded conceptual space.  Before the 60s-70s, human civilization has never developed under such a gigantic communications umbrella--I call it "umbrella" because it blocks out everything beyond oneself.

Of course its effect could not be immediate, it took a couple of generations to finally result in this extreme state of pathology and sexual confusion.  Something like genital grooming makes no sense unless you are so overexposed to stimulating images that you begin to fixate on them.  During this fixation the person becomes drained of emotional content and becomes an object, hence subject of stylized representations.  This is not even normal in men, let alone women.


#23 BB: Full-Time Zionist

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 01:24 PM

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Something like genital grooming makes no sense unless you are so overexposed to stimulating images that you begin to fixate on them.

A lot of porn acts have now become part of mainstream sex, at least, among the under-30's. I wonder if this isn't the same thing. I'd imagine that, before 1970 or so, most women (midwives & nurses aside) would go their entire lives without having a clear idea of what female genitals even looked like. Now, even should a woman prefer to remain ignorant, she may have no choice but to obsess over the attractiveness of her genitals for fear of failing ever to land a porn-addled mate.

#24 PRCD: Death (and Taxes)

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 02:18 PM

I'm actually reading a book right now on somatics that talks about the effects of urban modern life on our stress levels and well-being (and what to do about it).  It was written back in the late 80s.  

I think populations are ultimately caught in some huge feedback loop.  For instance, the Romans didn't really have to so much invade Greek territory as show up and occupy a depopulated Greek territory.  Later, Rome itself depopulated over a very short period of time due to starvation.  Look at Detroit now.  New York would already be a ruin if it weren't for Giulianni throwing all of the dangerous negroes in jail and throwing away the key along with it.  Los Angeles, despite the influx of Mexicans, is actually shrinking in size.  School enrollment has been declining along with the city itself, which has the worst roads in the nation (and the worst schools) - a microcosm of el futuro de Norte California.  Actually, Baja looks better than Los Angeles in many ways.

#25 PLEASUREMAN

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 03:26 PM

Technology became a double-edged sword.  I think it increased our conceptual space in a sense, but then crowded it tenfold so that while we've been able to manage our out-of-scale problems better (we won't starve to death for lack of food) the complexity increased dramatically and has led to more fast-spreading pathology.

In Haidt's TED talk about conservatives and liberals, he refers to Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights as a depiction of social entropy (an intriguing modern interpretation), arising from too little concern for order.  Our sexual mores seem to be playing out the abandon and hedonism of the central panel.

Out of curiosity, PRCalDude, what is the book you are reading?

#26 PRCD: Death (and Taxes)

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 04:20 PM

http://www.amazon.co...69122930&sr=1-1

Basically, the idea is that stress and anxiety go into the various postural muscles and screw up movement patterns and cause pain.  Over time, the build up of stress causes "sensory motor amnesia" in the brain and motor and sensory nerves and muscle dysfunction accumulates.  

The book is a bit too polemical and self-congratulatory, but the core idea is sound because pain and motor dysfunction is ultimately controlled by the brain.  Oh, the idea that it can arrest aging is obviously hyperbole too.  But you can stay relatively supple throughout life if you learn how to keep motor control of your muscles.  Most people in the US nowadays, through obesity and disuse, can barely walk.  But if you go to Germany, you can see old ladies walking around and riding their bikes like they're teenagers in the freezing cold.  It was a real eye-opener for me.  

Anyways, as you've probably figured out, I'M A PRETTY UPTIGHT GUY <insert SWPL parent hatred>.  I developed back and neck pain and needed to learn how to mellow out.  :draper:  But my muscles haven't totally loosened back up yet.  

Interestingly, though, there are societies with basically no back and neck pain despite the fact that heavy manual labor is common.  Western societies are typically the ones with the highest incidence of these illnesses even though we don't do much physical work anymore.

Edited by PRCalDude, 20 March 2010 - 04:23 PM.


#27 PRCD: Death (and Taxes)

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 04:25 PM

I hasten to add that agility is important.  What if you need to fight a belligerent negro sometime?

#28 Operation Mangosteen

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 02:45 PM

It's been a while since this thread had any activity, so I thought I'd inject this. Douthat had a decent columntoday in the NYT incorporating the idea of overgrown scale.

Quote

This is the perverse logic of meritocracy. Once a system grows sufficiently complex, it doesn't matter how badly our best and brightest foul things up. Every crisis increases their authority, because they seem to be the only ones who understand the system well enough to fix it.

But their fixes tend to make the system even more complex and centralized, and more vulnerable to the next national-security surprise, the next natural disaster, the next economic crisis. Which is why, despite all the populist backlash and all the promises from Washington, this isn't the end of the "too big to fail" era. It's the beginning.


#29 小林剣

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 10:44 PM

I used to think about issues of population density and resource consumption until I realized the problem is self correcting.
We might not like the solutions, but that is neither here nor there.

#30 PLEASUREMAN

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 10:47 PM

View PostThe Jewish Conspiracy, on 19 May 2010 - 10:44 PM, said:

I used to think about issues of population density and resource consumption until I realized the problem is self correcting.
We might not like the solutions, but that is neither here nor there.
They won't self-correct.

#31 Bonerjit

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 04:13 AM

View PostThe Jewish Conspiracy, on 19 May 2010 - 10:44 PM, said:

I used to think about issues of population density and resource consumption until I realized the problem is self correcting.
We might not like the solutions, but that is neither here nor there.

By "self correcting" and "solutions" do you mean rising prices and adjustments made in response to them?  Or something more serious like conflict?

#32 Blythe

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 10:42 PM

Public housing is a good example of the limits of human scale, no?  

The sort of people who end up in public housing are not able to live in large densely population anonymous apartment buildings.  They are simple not well behaved enough.  Public housing should have created in the countryside instead.

#33 PLEASUREMAN

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 12:46 AM

View Postash, on 31 May 2010 - 10:42 PM, said:

Public housing is a good example of the limits of human scale, no?  

The sort of people who end up in public housing are not able to live in large densely population anonymous apartment buildings.  They are simple not well behaved enough.  Public housing should have created in the countryside instead.
I don't think public housing on the scale of things like Pruitt Igoe works well with anyone, but it definitely works least well with groups prone to deviant and criminal behavior.  Rez housing has much the same problem.

Inner city neighborhoods were mostly screwed by the flight of higher IQ blacks once segregationist barriers got torn down.  This led to a collapse of norms in many of these neighborhoods and ultimately required a massive criminal justice response in order to get things under control.  (Katrina was just a dramatization of this.  It happened right before our eyes and we still didn't get it.)

Speaking of troublesome populations, it's ironic now that open borders advocates point sneeringly to anti-Italian and anti-Irish sentiment during the early 20th century.  In fact the large waves of Irish and Italian immigration brought plenty of problems and were only (problematically) assimilated after moratoriums.  It's typical of our arrogance to assume that what we have forgotten didn't matter.  Of course liberals think the answer to urban sprawl is densely populated cities.  There's no way around it:  we enjoy being dumb.

#34 krakatoa mudslide

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 11:15 AM

PM - I came across two old papers today relevant to Calhoun's work and your interests.

Wright 1973a - Guppies in high density tanks demonstrate lower fertility, decreased courtship, aggravated aggression. Abstract.

Wright 1973b - This response is somewhat plastic and can be adjusted by manipulations of the guppies' "visual field." That is, making the tank seem bigger or smaller. Abstract.

#35 PLEASUREMAN

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 11:44 AM

View PostBasil Rancid, on 21 June 2010 - 11:15 AM, said:

PM - I came across two old papers today relevant to Calhoun's work and your interests.

Wright 1973a - Guppies in high density tanks demonstrate lower fertility, decreased courtship, aggravated aggression. Abstract.

Wright 1973b - This response is somewhat plastic and can be adjusted by manipulations of the guppies' "visual field." That is, making the tank seem bigger or smaller. Abstract.
Thanks, I am always interested in other papers on the subject of density and behavior.

#36 Slim Jim Nationalist

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 06:22 PM

So a friend of mine just got a job at a company that sells some kind of software analytics package that helps other companies track how efficiently they're using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to gin up new business (or as the ad copy has it, "Social Media Monitoring and Engagement"). Apparently business is booming and their services are in great demand. It got me thinking about how, in our sophisticated modern economies, so much of what we do is just producing more useless frivolous bullshit to satisfy people's status anxiety, and then we start companies to manage and monitor and promote and optimize said bullshit (you mention the drive to optimize everything a couple times in this thread, well don't you worry, they're going to optimize the f**k out of Twitter :flathead: ). To paraphrase Snow Crash, it seems all we're good at making anymore is "social media", high-frequency trading, and reality shows. I'm guessing the increased departure of so many large and prestigious fields of work from anything remotely resembling value creation is probably another symptom of the kinds of problems discussed in this thread.

#37 PLEASUREMAN

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 06:54 PM

That's an excellent point.  "Social networking" has become an intense focus of Internet life even though social hyper-interaction (and interaction lacking depth or realness) appears to be one of the main issues.  It reminds me of the kind of manic, compulsive behavior you see in people overwhelmed by anxiety.  It is the flip side to the extreme regression that can also serve as a response to overstimulation.

There seem to be overlapping motives or goals to this form of interaction.  Something that could warrant another post is the way the workplace has changed, particularly as women entered the workforce and brought gynocentric pathology to its social organization.  (Women interact with very different motives from men of course.)  Today workplace socialization is very shallow and this tends to heighten anxiety.  Beneath the veneer of HR-enforced fake comity there is nothing but aggression.  Certainly many opportunities for rich interaction have disappeared from daily life, and escapist social networking might be the reaction.

Of course by "anxiety" I mean not only or mainly the sort of desperate awkwardness of nerds; I think most of the anxiety we experience is subconscious and tends to go unnoticed even as it interferes with normal social interaction.  It's probably the reason many marriages fall apart--the subconscious hostility leaves people too worn out to fulfill the needs of a spouse--in fact to participate in any deep relationship, which must draw on a reserve of emotional energy.

Another part perhaps is the busywork quality of this artificial social networking--getting more friends (even people you barely know or care about), participating in social networking games, and generally hoarding resources in the form of "points" (this is why nerds care so much about their gamer scores--it is classic hoarding activity, only directed at a completely useless resource).

I also like that you bring up reality shows, a form of vicarious socialization (and almost the entire point to them is to release hostility).

So when we talk of "scale" and "complexity" we are mainly talking about the problem of being overwhelmed by threatening or challenging social interactions within an atomized, heterogenous environment.  Resource hoarding is one symptom, as is of course regression and escapism.

#38 Do You Read Sutter CandH44

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 09:32 PM

View PostStiva, on 21 June 2010 - 06:22 PM, said:

To paraphrase Snow Crash, it seems all we're good at making anymore is "social media", high-frequency trading, and reality shows.

Don't forget high-speed pizza delivery!

#39 Slim Jim Nationalist

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 12:36 PM

View PostPLEASUREMAN, on 07 March 2010 - 05:03 PM, said:

How can the problem of scale be addressed?

4. Political reform

In order to preserve what social stability remains, political participation should be reformed to reduce the influence of atomized citizens on political discourse and to restore a balance between the rural and urban outlooks.  To this end, I favor restricting the franchise to property-owning households (that is, one vote per family).  This may well be regarded as the most fanciful suggestion in a series of fanciful suggestions, for the franchise has become in modern society a sacred touchstone, never mind that it is increasingly used only to select the emptiest and most inane politicians from a highly competitive series.  I would argue the opposite, that the franchise has been degraded by being awarded to everyone everywhere while requiring less sense than is needed to pass a driving test or obtain a credit card; it is granted as well to those who are still in a mode of living more closely resembling adolescence than adulthood.

This political reform is not flippant; it targets precisely that voter who has become most menacing to society, the rootless, self-infatuated, novelty-seeking intellectual.  I admit it will be difficult if not impossible to get this one past him, for he reads and often pretends to understand what he reads, and has arrogance to spare besides.  However it is clear he will undo everything in an instant, for any reason or simply because he is bored with life (this more or less describes his entire involvement in politics).



Thomas Carlyle, on 15 April 1850, said:

...there is in all Colonies a fluctuating migratory mass, not destitute of money, but very much so of loyalty, permanency, or civic availability; whom it is extremely advantageous not to consult on what you are about attempting for the Colony or Mother Country... And if by any means you could (which you cannot) exclude the Fourth Estate, and indicate decisively what Wise Advice was the thing wanted here, and Parliamentary Eloquence was not the thing wanted anywhere just now,--there might really some light of experience and human foresight, and a truly valuable benefit, be found for you in such assemblies.


#40 PLEASUREMAN

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 12:53 PM

As usual, someone else said it much better than me...


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