Category Archives: note to future generations

Desire | بهر آن میلست

For Sashels…

بهر آن میلست در ماده به نر
تا بود تکمیل کار همدگر
میل اندر مرد و زن حق زان نهاد
تا بقا یابد جهان زین اتحاد
میل هر جزوی به جزوی هم نهد
ز اتحاد هر دو تولیدی زهد
شب چنین با روز اندر اعتناق
مختلف در صورت اما اتفاق
روز و شب ظاهر دو ضد و دشمنند
لیک هر دو یک حقیقت می تنند
هر یکی خواهان دگر را همچو خویش
از پی تکمیل فعل و کار خویش
زانک بی شب دخل نبود طبع را
پس چه اندر خرج آرد روزها

bahr-e-an meilast dar madeh beh nar

ta bud takmil kar-e-hamdegar

meil andar-e-mard o zan haqq zan nehad

ta baqa yabad jahan zin ettehad

meil-e-har jozui beh jozui ham nehad

ze ettehad-e-har do towlidi zahad

shab chenin ba ruz andar-e-etenaq

mokhtalef dar surat amma ettefaq

ruz o shab zaher-e-do zedd o dashmanand

leik har do yek haqiqat mitanand

har yeki khahan degar ra hamchu khish

az pay takmil-e-fe’el o kar-e-khish

zank bi shab dakhl nabud tabe’ ra

pas che andar-e-kharj arad ruzha

/purpose [of]/that/desire/is/in/female/for/male/

/so [that]/was/complete/work/[of] each other/

/desire/into/man/and/woman/Truth/from it/put/

/so [that]/survive/[would] be/world/from this/union/

/desire [of]/one part/to/one part/also/placed/

/from/union/both/a product/give/

/night/the same/with/day/in/embrace/

/different/in/form/but/unison/

/day/and/night/appear/contrary/and/enemies/are/

/but/both/one/truth/… [proclaim]/

/each one/wants/[the] other/just like/self/

/for/completion [of]/action/and/work/[of] itself/

/from that/without/night/income/[would] not be/nature/[to]/

/then/what/[into]/outside/spend/days/

Woman’s desire and man’s

exist to complete each others’ work.

From the absolute, desire emanates

into each

For the world of form to be preserved.

The desire of one incompleteness for the other

likewise exists

so that from their union, newness is born.

Just like this, night embraces day.

Opposite in form, always already one.

To the senses day and night appear in contrast to each other.

But both silently attest to the same sweet truth.

Each desires the other as its own self

to complete some hidden purpose.

And as for human nature,

without night,

what income would it receive?

Without that sweet shared mystery,

its days would have nothing to expend.

Mowlana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi ‘Rumi’ — Mathnawi III 4414-20

–translation by halewi

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The World in 2036–Nassim Taleb

Via The World in 2036: Nassim Taleb looks at what will break, and what won’t | The Economist.

Paradoxically, one can make long-term predictions on the basis of the prevalence of forecasting errors. A system that is over-reliant on prediction (through leverage, like the banking system before the recent crisis), hence fragile to unforeseen “black swan” events, will eventually break into pieces. Although fragile bridges can take a long time to collapse, 25 years in the 21st century should be sufficient to make hidden risks salient: connectivity and operational leverage are making cultural and economic events cascade faster and deeper. Anything fragile today will be broken by then.

The great top-down nation-state will be only cosmetically alive, weakened by deficits, politicians’ misalignment of interests and the magnification of errors by centralised systems. The pre-modernist robust model of city-states and statelings will prevail, with obsessive fiscal prudence. Currencies might still exist, but, after the disastrous experience of America’s Federal Reserve, they will peg to some currency without a government, such as gold.

Companies that are currently large, debt-laden, listed on an exchange (hence “efficient”) and paying bonuses will be gone. Those that will survive will be the more black swan-resistant—smaller, family-owned, unlisted on exchanges and free of debt. There will be large companies then, but these will be new—and short-lived.

The world will face severe biological and electronic pandemics, another gift from globalisation.

Religious practice will experience a revival, seen as a conveyor of robust heuristics, cultural values and rituals. Science will produce smaller and smaller gains in the non-linear domain, in spite of the enormous resources it will consume; instead it will start focusing on what it cannot—and should not—do. Finally, what is now called academic economics will be treated with the same disrespect that rigorous (and practical) minds currently have for Derrida-style post-modernist verbiage.

Nassim Taleb: professor of risk engineering at New York University; author of “The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms” (Random House and Penguin, January 2011)

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The End of Nature – Zizek in NYT

Via The End of Nature – NYTimes.com

The big ecological disasters of 2010 fit into the ancient cosmological model, in which the universe is made up of four basic elements: AIR, volcanic ash clouds from Iceland immobilizing airline traffic over Europe; EARTH, mudslides and earthquakes in China; FIRE, rendering Moscow almost unlivable; WATER, the tsunami in Indonesia, floods displacing millions in Pakistan.

Such recourse to traditional wisdom offers no true insight into the mysteries of our wild Mother Nature’s whims, however. It’s a consolation device, really, allowing us to avoid the question we all want to ask: Will more events of such magnitude turn up on nature’s agenda for 2011?

In our disenchanted, post-religious, ultra-technological era, catastrophes can no longer be rendered meaningful as part of a natural cycle or as an expression of divine wrath. Ecological catastrophes — which we can view continually and close-up, thanks to our 24/7 plugged-in world — become the meaningless intrusions of a blind, destructive rage. It’s as if we are witnessing the end of nature.

Today we look to scientific experts to know all. But they do not, and therein lies the problem. Science has transformed itself into specialized knowledge, offering an inconsistent array of conflicting explanations called “expert opinions.” But if we blame the scientific-technological civilization for many of our difficulties, we cannot do without that same science to fix the damage — only scientists, after all, can “see” the ozone hole. Or, as a line from Wagner’s “Parsifal” puts it, “The wound can only be healed by the spear that made it.” There is no way back to pre-scientific holistic wisdom, to the world of Earth, Wind, Air and Fire.

While science can help us, it can’t do the whole job. Instead of looking to science to stop our world from ending, we need to look at ourselves and learn to imagine and create a new world. At least for those of us in the West, it’s difficult to accept being passive observers who must sit and watch as our fates are revealed.

Enter the perverse pleasure of premature martyrdom: “We offended Mother Nature, so we are getting what we deserve!” It’s deceptively reassuring to be ready to assume guilt for the threats to our environment. If we are guilty, then it all depends on us; we can save ourselves simply by changing our lives. We frantically and obsessively recycle old paper, buy organic food — whatever, just so we can be sure we are doing something, making our contribution.

But like the anthropomorphic universe, magically designed for man’s comfort, the so-called balance of nature, which humankind brutally destroys with its hubris, is a myth. Catastrophes are part of natural history. The fact that ash from a modest volcanic outburst in Iceland grounded most of the planes in Europe is a much-needed reminder of how we, humans, with our tremendous power over nature, are nothing but one of the living species on Earth, depending on the delicate balance of its elements.

So what might the future hold? One thing is clear: We should accustom ourselves to a much more nomadic way of life. Gradual or sudden change in our environment, about which science can do little more than offer a warning, may force unheard-of social and cultural transformations. Suppose a new volcanic eruption makes a place uninhabitable: Where will the inhabitants find a home? In the past, large population movements were spontaneous processes, full of suffering and loss of civilizations. Today, when weapons of mass destruction are available not only to states but even to local groups, humanity simply can’t afford a spontaneous population exchange.

What this means is that new forms of global cooperation, which do not depend on the market or on diplomatic negotiations, must be invented. Is this an impossible dream?

The impossible and the possible are simultaneously bursting into excess. In the realms of personal freedom and scientific technology, the impossible is more and more possible. We can entertain the prospect of enhancing our physical and psychic abilities; of manipulating our biological traits via interventions into the genome; of achieving the tech-gnostic dream of immortality by encoding our distinguishing traits and feeding the composite of our identities into a computer program.

When it comes to socioeconomic relations, however, we perceive our era as one of maturity, and thus acceptance. With the collapse of Communism, we abandoned the old millenarian utopian dreams and accepted the constraints of reality — that is, capitalist socioeconomic reality — with all its impossibilities. We cannot engage in large collective acts, which necessarily end in totalitarian terror. We cannot cling to the old welfare state, which makes us noncompetitive and leads to economic crisis. We cannot isolate ourselves from the global market.

For us, it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than serious social change. Witness the numerous blockbusters about global catastrophe and the conspicuous absence of films about alternate societies.

Maybe it’s time to reverse our concept of what is possible and what isn’t; maybe we should accept the impossibility of omnipotent immortality and consider the possibility of radical social change. If nature is no longer a stable order on which we can rely, then our society should also change if we want to survive in a nature that is no longer the good caring mother, but a pale and indifferent one.

Slavoj Zizek is a Slovenian-born political philosopher and cultural critic. He is a scholar or visiting professor at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, the European Graduate School in Switzerland and a number of American universities.

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Living in the End Times–Zizek on Dutch TV

YouTube – Living in the End Times According to Slavoj Zizek

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Sugata Mitra: Child-driven education

Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education | Video on TED.com

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Paul Collier on the “bottom billion” | TED.com

Paul Collier on the “bottom billion” | Video on TED.com

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… this speaks for itself.

YouTube – Hebron / Soldier’s ballett on Ke$ha’s Tik Tok song

…. But, for some context (via Juan Cole’s Informed Comment):

Posted on July 7, 2010 by Juan

Israeli troops dance to Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok.”:

… The piece begins with the Muslim call to prayer in al-Khalil, a Palestinian city in the Palestinian West Bank, which Israelis call Hebron. Some 30,000 Palestinians are being kept in an urban prison for the sake of 600 far-right armed Jewish colonists who have squatted on Palestinian property in the city. Al-Khalil (“Hebron”), like the 2.5 million Palestinian residents of the West Bank, has been militarily occupied by Israel since 1967. Israeli squatters have stolen private Palestinian land and control 42% of the West Bank, according to B’Tselem. It is illegal in international law for Occupying powers to transfer their own populations into occupied territories or for them to usurp property from the occupied.

The video depicts Hebron as mired in tradition and virtually empty, which mirrors the Israeli Orientalist view of Palestinians more generally. The soldiers are depicted as playful, fun-loving and hyper-modern, gyrating to the music of the most recent blonde valley-girl top 40 phenomenon.

In fact, militarily occupying other people is a sign of backward, 19th-century-style imperialist ideology. The 600 Israeli colonists these troops are supporting include people far more fundamentalist and mired in tradition than most Palestinians.


Israeli settlers, Al-Khalil/Hebron

And struggling for local independence versus globalizing oppression, whether it is BP destroying the Gulf of Mexico, coal companies causing global warming and destroying human habitat, or neo-imperial schemes to steal local resources on the part of global bullies, is actually the avant-garde of the 21st century.


Palestinian youth dancing to Shakira at the Cosmos dance club in the West Bank Courtesy McClatchy

Here is a video of the more usual activities of the Israeli army in al-Khalil:

“On Feb. 25, 2010, Palestinian and international activists held a march in Hebron/Al Khalil to demand the opening of Shuhada Street, open to Israelis but closed to Palestinians for the last ten years. Marchers attempted to walk onto Shuhada Street, once a primary street for Palestinian business and markets, but Israeli military prevented them from entering. The man detained in this clip was released late that evening.”

And here is a B’tselem video of what life is like for al-Khalil residents trapped among aggressive Israeli squatters determined to drive them out:

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