Saturday, September 29, 2012

King Arthur as President of Simple folks of America? Marx, Engels, Snark and Boojum.

There is always the wish in the mind of the ordinary simple folks that they could be ruled by a benevolent figure like King Arthur or his equivalent, It would be better still for the world if the most powerful country in the world, say America, had such a leader.

It is easy to pose the question in the title of this blog. One looks at the presidential candidates or presidents or important public figures of USA, The answer would be very easily a simple “no” … not even if you were allowed to consider Che Guevara!

The rub comes if we can think of “yes” as an answer. Then we have to pose some more questions. Therefore this blog?

It will be somewhat out of character if this blog is not as long as it is. Unfortunately, it could have become longer simply because there are so many things I have to learn through blogging... and there may be little time left?

The last time I started on a blog was more than four months ago. I thought I would write on Labour day, trace its origins, come to Chicago, find an Obama-connection and then argue about why Obama’s strong Chicasgo influence makes him use an altruist’s concern for the poor for his own selfish ends of remaining in power and bank-rolling his life style at the expense of the American people. We in India know about the qualities of our recent day politicians too well and need not be disappointed with the behavior of any politician, least of all any recent American president. All this I will leave to a later blog.

Obama is no King Arthur nor was meant to be. Obama, as an individual or as a president has seemingly (at least to somebody like me) has made little positive contribution of any kind to an original, typically American, philosophy that could improve the quality of the life of the ordinary American, regardless of colour or wealth or religion or education.

As world citizens, however, we were really hoping that a man such as Obama with an “ordinary” upbringing could come out of his middle-class-ness and rid the world of its petite bourgeoisie mentality of undeserved and unreasonable self-enhancement. We had also hoped that a benevolent American President, would take up global concerns that affect the life of the simple folk.

The danger is that the hunt for a King Arthur may be like the hunting of a Snark when all we have is the Boojum

Who are the simple folks?

They celebrate the May festival.

I will spend some time with the origins of May Day because this day has its roots in the earliest spontaneous folk festival which did not require a sanction from authority. To be a benevolent leader one could ask, like White’s “Once And Future King” Arthur asks of his queen Guinevere in the film version of Lerner and Lowe’s Camelot (just in case you have not seen the movie several times),

What do the simple folk do?
To help them escape when they're blue?
The shepard who is ailing, the milkmaid who is glum
The cobbler who is wailing from nailing his thumb
When they're beset and besieged
The folk not noblessly obliged

To which Guinevere guesses

… They must have a system or two
They obviously outshine us at turning tears to mirth
Have tricks a royal highness is minus from birth …


Guinevere, so lustily enacted by the very charming Vanessa Redgrave, would look forward to the month of May

… That lovely month when ev'ryone goes
Blissfully astray.
Tra la! It's here!
That shocking time of year
When tons of wicked little thoughts
Merrily appear!


It is this general acceptance in Europe of May being a lovely month that led to the celebration of May Day. This festival, it seems, is really from a pre-christian Celtic paganistic festival pronounced something like Beltane. This festival has some similarities to our own Holi festival especially in the way they light bonfires to mark the festival. Beltane also refers to the god of fire/light. This ancient pagan (relating to an ancient religion that had many gods and praised nature.. my computer tells me) festival is also associated with the Maypole festivities of Whitsun which is thought to be related to lingam worship (see “The Sacred Fire: The Story of Sex in Religion” By Ben Zion Goldberg) and a licence for free sex, as it is (or was, perhaps, before internet and virtuality came in) supposed to be in our Holi festival.

My father was born in the first of May. As children, we five siblings within twelve years of each other, have celebrated May 1 as my father’s birthday. As a six-year old or so, I concluded --- as usual wrongly --- that the public holiday on May 1 was part of celebration of my father’s birthday by the workers of the small factory where my father was chief engineer. As my innocent world expanded with age I was impressed by the number of other factory workers celebrating our father’s birthday.

We looked forward to that May-day holiday when we would picnic in My Ladye’s Garden (did not understand at that time why “lady” became “ladye”) before or after we went to the (now shifted) Madras zoo. Labour day was indeed a day of family celebration. Even if summer was not the best time the sea breeze was most cooling in the summer evenings when the typical madrasi male would roll up his lungi to ventilate his inners.

In the context of the May festival , it has to be mentioned that My Ladye’s garden was initiated by Charles Trevelyan in 1859 when he became a Governor of Madras (now Chennai) for a brief period. Trevelyan did it as a People’s Park which ended in a place that is now called Park town. So our family’s may day was somewhat in touch with the “pagan” spirit of May Day in a “holi”-day sense.

A more people-unfriendly view of Trevelyan is that of one who was put in charge for relief during the Irish famine in the mid 1900s when nearly a million people died. Trevelyan failed to bring the famine under control, He is supposed to have written (according to Wikipedia) "The judgement of God sent the calamity to teach the Irish a lesson, that calamity must not be too much mitigated... The real evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the Famine, but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people." Maybe Trevelyan made the people’s park for the Indian people as a penance for his Irish crime, ... or was it for for his ladye who “... remained in London for the sake of the children.” (Florence Nightingale’s letter in 1859).

Simple folks and the Proletariat Caste: A Loss of Innocence.

Our communist labour-union-leading relatives traced its origin for us to the workers’ revolution in which Marx and Engels and Lenin and Trotsky figured. The workers, they said, revolted against the richness of the rich who profited from the wealth of the workers’ labours. This was how the class-distinction between workers and rich factory owners crept into our minds at our young impressionable age.

Marx and Engels had just entered manhood when they voiced their philosophies. Engels wrote Engels would write his book “The Condition of the Working Class in England” in 1845 when he was twenty four years old! That is the age when one is not afraid As a preface to the 1891 English Edition of his book, Engels would write

The book, an English translation of which is here republished, was first issued in Germany in 1845. The author, at that time, was young, twenty-four years of age, and his production bears thestamp of his youth with its good and its faulty features, of neither of which he feels ashamed.

Youth is never a problem for original thought and action. Einstein was 26 in the year when he published his works on Brownian motion, special relativity, and the equivalence of matter and energy, S N Bose’s work that led to the concept of bosons --- as in the so-called god particle Higgs boson --- was also that age when he finished his work. Enrico Fermi was twenty two when he realized the possibility of enormous nuclear potential energy in Einstein’s E = mc2 equation. Alexander was twenty two when he invaded Persia minor.

The immaturity of youth is a problem, however, when it comes to social issues since age does temper the impetuosity of youth, with the arrival of children and grandchildren and with the simple joys of running a family.

The loss of innocence of Camelot’s “simple folks” all over the developed/developing world is one of the more important consequences of the influence of the philosophies of Marx-Engels. The simple folks became the proletariat caste (Roman term, as we ought to know, for those whose children are their wealth because they perform manual services for the Roman empire that the aristocrats cannot). Engels would write “…The first proletarians were connected with manufacture, were engendered by it, and accordingly, those employed in manufacture, in the working up of raw materials …

Since that time, the middle of the nineteenth century, the aim to be come a so-called class-less society, has seen instead a new hierarchy of caste systems within the salaried class. As Engels noted, “… the degree of intelligence of the various workers is in direct proportion to their relation to manufacture; and that the factory-hands are most enlightened as to their own interests, the miners somewhat less so, the agricultural labourers scarcely at all … .

In the context of this article, it was the misery of the Irish workers in Manchester that led to Engels’ Die Lage der arbeitenden Klasse in England in 1845 that eventually led to the workers’ revolution and to the amelioration of the conditions of the factory workers. The credibility of this revolution led eventually to the monopoly-like power of labour leaders. This revolution was destroyed by the Communist party of the Soviet union and re-phrased by the (now capitalist) Communist party of China. Both of these developments left the communist parties all over the world rudderless. With it, the theme of “upliftment of the proletariat” --- so common in the mid twentieth century --- vanished from political usage.

The salvation of the so-called poor, sadly it seems, can never come from the poor simply because the poor think themselves to be poor because of conspicuous images that drive them to want to be conspicuously rich also.

Their actual salvation seems to come from people who have been healthily and wealthy for several generations. These saviours are able to be generous without being conscious (say by tax concessions) about it.

The saviour has to be something like King Arthur in his Camelot.

Marx and Engels and King Arthur --- men with beards

A king such as King Arthur had to rule based on a philosophy on which he must have been advised on. Let us say that his advisor was Merlin the magician. Merlin may have been a magician to King Arthur, because Merlin’s advice worked like magic since he would not have understood the philosophy in its full context.

Let us also say that Marx-Engels to a modern ruler would be somthing like a Merlin.

Both Marx and Engels belonged to an affluent class which pu them, like a Buddha, to be in position to feel the sufferings of the poor from their truly privileged position. Because of their privileged position they could also be heard by people of consequence. Engels would write in the preface of his book on the conditions of the working class in England,

... I am both glad and proud of having done so. Glad, because thus I was induced to spend many a happy hour in obtaining a knowledge of the realities of life -- many an hour, which else would have been wasted in fashionable talk and tiresome etiquette; proud, because thus I got an opportunity of doing justice to an oppressed and calumniated class of men who with all their faults and under all the disadvantages of their situation, yet command the respect of everyone but an English money-monger...
The images of Marx and Engels above, presumably working on the conditions of the working class, show them in quite comfortable conditions. These conditions naturally made them appreciate the misery of the working class. Marx would seem to be the more convinced. Engels was probably more steet smart. He would publish his “authorised version” of an English Translation in America, hoping as usual to make some money.

When Engels made his classification of workers based on the degree of intelligence, he was, of course, like all non-proletariat intellectuals, unaware of the amount of intelligence used by an organic farmer because of his experience. In any sensible society of simple folks, this organic farmer, who cannot be thought of as part of a petite-bourgeois salaried class, should head any labour hierarchy simply because of the essential food he provides. Instead, in the modern world, the hierarchy of labour is headed by programmes generated by computers.These programmed machines of manufacture are in the hands of environmentally de-sensitized, conspicuously consuming, clerk-people. The conditions of these workers are naturally unstable since they become redundant when more efficient labour unfriendly programmes increase worker redundancy.

Engels and Marx become relevant in modern times because of the philosophy of their ideas, even if they rephrased old philosophies in terms of what was contenporart for their times, Their analyses do not depend (I think) on the actual working condition of a salaried class, Their importance came from their unorthodox views which they could sustain because of their affluence.
The images of Marx and Engels that we are familiar with are those with long beards. Fig 1 is taken from the internet, pens and relative positions of the two have changed. Engels in a woollen coat may have been visiting Marxr. A portrait on the wall behind (;eft of Fig 1) suggests an affluence associated with Marx in his earlier days. It is their beard which gave American politicians their phobia of people with long beards (Castro, Osama, holy muslims, Sikhs).

The growing of a beard could suggest a non-necessity to spend time shaving one’s self purely for the purpose of conforming. The series of photographs in the top row of Fig 2 shows Engels growing up from a cocky young lad of the upper classes, through an uncertain angry young man who has made his first protest, then basking in the comforts of his recognition till finally becoming a wise old man, a little uncertain and perhaps forgiving himself for some of his early inaccuracies.

Not all men with beard are associated with blood-spilling bolshevikism (say, Jesus Christ or Gabby Hayes --- he was the sidekick that provided the negative space that made heroes out of cowboy legends such as Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry)., Cricketing revolutionaty W G Grace (played cricket from age 17 to 61) was famous for his bird nest beard. Tendulkar by this example could break another record by playing till 2035, sharing as he does Grace’s financial acumen. I don’t think Tendulkar is hairy enough to grow a Grace-ly beard.

Marx’s Philosophical Problem

Karl Marx did not start his non-conforming life with a beard. He had the air of a confident young man, because of which perhaps he engaged in a difficult doctoral thesis on the difference between Democritean (from Democritus’ theory of atomos or indivisible) and Epicurian philosophy in Nature. Karl Marx’s dilemma was the following:-

Two philosophers teach exactly the same science, in exactly the same way, but — how inconsistent! — they stand diametrically opposed in all that concerns truth, certainty, application of this science, and all that refers to the relationship between thought and reality in general. I say that they stand diametrically opposed, and I shall now try to prove it.

Some of Marx’s statements (http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1841/dr-theses/ch03.htm) are quite simple

... while Democritus turns the sensuous world into subjective semblance, Epicurus turns it into objective appearance... ;
... Democritus, dissatisfied with philosophy, throws himself into the arms of empirical knowledge, Epicurus has nothing but contempt for the positive sciences, since in his opinion they contribute nothing to true perfection. ...
"

Such contests between the philosophical and the empirical comes up in all aspects of life ... The philosophical aspects are most often imbibed by the deprived while the empirical or practical aspects are best suitable for the ordinary (non-monsanto?) farmer who has the more difficult task of understanding nature and drawing from her resources without upsetting her rhythm.

When Marx and Engels started their collaboration, they were perhaps guided by the Democritean approach. They required an analytical basis, not unlike aspiring scholars of that time. Just like the laws of motion in physics, they came up with “ … dialectics, or the laws of motion of nature, human society and human thought …” (most of the comments on dielectics in what follows immediately will be based on Robert Sewell’s “What is dialectical materialism? - A study guide with questions, extracts and suggested reading” http://www.marxist.com/what-is-dialectical-materialism.htm).

Dielectics (a method of argument for resolving contradictions or disagreement) is primarily meant by Marx and Engels (I think) to provide the required philosophy for the working class (producers of wealth) to understand the conflict in their relationship with the capitalist class (hoarders of wealth). Once this is understood it can be used as their most effective weapon in their fight against their exploitation by the capitalist class,

One important aspect of such a dielectic, that is to Hegel in western philosophy, is that for every thesis one seeks an antithesis and one makes progress by a synthesis that removes the contradiction till another antithesis is found.. and so on. This is a dynamic theory which changes with change. Change it must as the environment of the universe changes with time independent of the direction it goes.

Within the limited lifetime of interest in philosophy that is available to a human mind such changes become slow to grasp after a certain time. The synthesis becomes static and reaches a steady state in which contradictions are not perceived to exist. One then writes a textbook or a treatise that is used as a guide. This may be thought to be a crystallization of ideas but is actually a petrification. Outside such a fossilization of a living mind, however, change continues relentlessly, A given synthesis or treatise becomes erroneous and therefore obsolete with time. The dialectical process of thesis, antithesis and synthesis continues but any synthesis during a finite period of time remains incomplete.

The requirement for the fulfilment of this dialectical process is infinite time which is impossible for the ordinary human. In this case one requires an authoritative statement from one who has experienced infinite time (in any direction). This becomes the dogma of a doctrine or a revelation in religion.

One may conclude, as a corollary, that since one does not have infinite time in one life, such doctrine must come from another world where time has reached infinity (godliness) and no change in time is possible. This could provide the basis for a “god-given” treatise such as the Vedas. The following of the Vedas will then necessarily have to be ritualistic since we cannot know truth in our finite life time. On the other hand, those who live in a dynamic sense and perceive change, the time-dependent dynamic dialectical method of perception and inference are the only source of knowledge, with little interest in its end. It provides the philosophy for action in life. In the context of awareness of the Vedas, this is the interpretation of the Mimamsa philosophy.

The essential feature, at this point of my understanding, is that at every point of one’s life the essence of any experience (forward in time) at any instant of time is registered only because of its negative or contradictory memories (backward in time). We learn how to walk on two legs because of our memory that we fall if we move forward without walking properly. This we do instinctively, even if we do not realize that we fall because our centre of gravity falls outside our base of support and we can prevent ourselves from falling if we move our base of support of our centre of gravity before the time it would have taken to fall. The quicker we do it, the steadier our gait is. This is so in all aspects of our walk through life. This is an irreversible process. We cannot unlearn it simply we cannot un-experience it. Just as a fallen stone will not climb up.

Dielectical materialists are those who believe that matter always existed but the consciousness of the existence of matter came only from the mind of evolved species such as that in mankind. But if life is a reaction to change, then all changes must be considered as a life process. The requirement for change is a requirement to remove differences in potential that appears due to such a change. This does not require a cognitive mind. The notion that there is change even when there is no mind to perceive the changes suggests that time is independent of its perception by the mind and that there would be no existence in the absence of time or change.

Dialectical Materialism as applied to mankind (Historical Materialism) refers to the events in History that was created by man’s consciousness and has been applied to the role of man in his economic order and the contradictions that arise within. The class of mankind that controls production of wealth is in contradiction with the other classes. Historical materialism predicts the synthesis of such contradictions.

Because of its very contradictions, Marx”s conclusions derived in the early 19th century cannot be expected to be valid in the early twenty-first century.

The dialectical method --- not necessarily that of Marx --- will still be relevant.

The Snark of a Story teller

The storyteller has many times perhaps little use for the empirical or the philosophical sciences. His successes depend on the acceptability/gullibility of his readers and their own private biases of their life-experiences.

One of the more attractive storytellers must be Lewis Carroll, which is the pen-name of Charles Dodgson (the same name as his father, his grandfather, his great grandfather). Lewis Carroll did not grow a beard, probably because he stammered. One of his poems on “The Hunting of a Snark” had a bearded Bellman captaining his ship who lands his crew on a beach hunting for a Snark. The Bellman (second from tight in the bottom row of Fig 2)who was trusted so well as the Captain “... had only one notion for crossing the ocean, And that was to tingle his bell ... .”. Henry Holiday’s sketch of the bellman has quite a resemblance to Charles Darwin.

The poem begins thus
“Just the place for a Snark!” the Bellman cried,
As he landed his crew with care; 
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
By a finger entwined in his hair. 
“Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew. 
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true.
” 
There are some who identify the bearded bellman with Charles Darwin and the crew with the crew of Darwin’s ship Beagle. Martens’ 1934 etching of Darwin’s Beagle landing ashore (Fig 3 left) at the port of Santa Cruz in the Tenerite Island of the Canary islands, has been assembled (Fig 3 right, in modern terms it would be called morphing, I guess;) together with Henry Holiday’s illustration of bellman, banker and beaver that accompanied Caroll’s poem (see http://www.flickr.com/photos/bonnetmaker/7789617292/). To be fair, Holiday may have just used Darwin as a model. Other similarities have been noticed, however, (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bonnetmaker/6072739203/) between the drawing of a weed and Darwin’s sketch on the tree of life.

Once one makes this connection, it is easy to see that for the empirical scientist, repeating an observation of a previously unidentified object is sufficient proof of its existence. The corollary to this is that the first reasonable hypothesis for finding a previously unidentified object is assumed to be true if the hypothesis is also repeated three times. Thus, the phrase “What I tell you three times is true” is suggestive of the utterings of a (creative) research supervisor urging his assistants to deliver. Darwin would fit this description.

Lewis Carroll being a mathematician (as Dodgson) may have been a Democritean and rejected evidence that did not have a mathematical proof. As a Democritean he did not have mathematical proof (based on what he knew at that time) that the probability that a monkey could be trained to intelligently type a phrase from, say, Shakespeare. So he would have been uncomfortable when Darwin (as an Epicurean?) proposed his empirical theory of natural selection. Caroll may have identified this theory with the Snark?

The Snark and the Boojum

The Snark has to be distinguished from the Boojum

The characteristic of the snark “… a peculiar creature, that won't Be caught in a commonplace way. …”. Is that there are some which may be Boojums: “ and beware of the day,If your Snark be a Boojum! For then You will softly and suddenly vanish away, And never be met with again! …” The Boojum is not an antithesis of you because there is no synthesis with the Boojum. The Boojum may not even be an antimatter if no light or information is given out as you vanish.

In a remonstrative but well-cited (> 350 citations) article titled “The Snark and the Boojum” (American Psychologist 1950) and delivered as a Presidential Address, before a collections of Experimental Psychologists, Frank Beach compared the research on Animal Behaviour by Comparative Psychologists as the Hunting of a Snark because of the subsequent vanishing of the Comparative Psychologists. Beach’s analysis had as its first chart (Fig 4) a comparison with the number of articles published with time with the number of species studied during this time.
The tailing off the number of species studied came about because of the narrowing down of animals being studied to white rats. As noted by Beach “…rattus norvegicus soon came to be accepted as a substitute for Homosapiens …” because they “…are cheap, easy to rear, and well adapted to a laboratory existenxe… “ and “… because of certain resemblance between the associateive learning of rats and human beings…” Beach continues that “… the average graduate student who intends to do a thesis problem with animals turns automatically to the white rate as his experimental subject ...”. The consequences are that “…We insist that our students become well vested in experimental design. We drill them in objective and quantitative methods. We do everything to make them first rate experimentalists. And then we give them so narrow a view of the field of behaviour that they are satisfied to work on the same kind of problems ... “.

Beach then predicts that instead of the Pied piper ridding a town of rats with the magic of his flute that leads them to the river to be drowned, the rattus norvegicus (the Boojums) now play the tune and lead comparative Psychologists to their extinction (Fig 5)

The Snark as a Democracy.

Democracy is very difficult notion to understand in detail, but is extremely simple when phrased in, say, Lincoln’s words that all men are created equal. One is never very clear, though, about what one means by being born equal. It may mean that we are born with equal statistical averages of our advantages and disadvantages that are necessarily judged by very different subjective criteria. This is especially true in racially and historically mixed people such as in what is called the United States of America and our own Republic of India.

It is, of course, the riches that America promises that attracts immigrants, with the promise of freedom. Here freedom must men freedom from the feudalism of European society from which most immigrants fled..

American democracy is, like the snark, very difficult to understand because of the assertion that all men are created equal and the excessive rights to freedom that they allow (see my blog “Should America be afraid of G. K. Chesterton?”). The difficulty of this snark is the assumption that all men are, of course, not equal in different fields.

One of the easiest freedoms that is defended by Americans is the freedom (the Boojum) to make money, no matter how. This is their freedom to make a livelihood.

This is the equality that gives one voter one vote --- in theory. In practice, there is a swarm intelligence in which a swarm of voters go by social signals emanating from the visible. It is the hype of the swarm that sways public opinion.

The sentences below are taken from Israel Zangwill’s play “The Melting Pot” where he defines the American, writes
“America is God’s Crucible, the great Melting‐Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and re‐forming! Here you stand, good folk, here you stand in your fifty groups, with your fifty languages and histories, and your fifty blood hatreds and rivalries. ... A fig for your feuds and vendettas! Germans and Frenchmen, Irishmen and Englishmen, Jews and Russians—into the Crucible with you all! God is making the American!”. Theodore Roosevelt, who applauded Zangwil’s play on opening night in 1907 would write later when decrying the hyphenated American

... a hyphenated American is not an American at all ... the man who puts “native” before the hyphen as of the man who puts German or Irish or English or French before the hyphen. ... Our allegiance must be purely to the United States. We must unsparingly condemn any man who holds any other allegiance. But if he is heartily and singly loyal to this Republic, then no matter where he was born, he is just as good an American as any one else.

This outcry against hyphenated Americanism by melting-pot protagonists has the dangers of nationalism (see Randolph Bourne,“Trans‐National America,” 1916) that drove Europe into their world wars. It is in this nationalistic garb of protectors of the democratic faith, that American occupation forces are now seen to be imposing their beliefs on the rest of the world. They may therefore now be seen to be doing unto others what was done unto them before they came to the land of the free.

This freedom is very mono-dimensional and has little tolerance for the hyphenated freedom lover.

The snark of democracy is in danger of becoming a Boojum.

The theatre programme (Fig 6) for Zangwill’s play has the different people entering the melting with the insignia of USA. In an uncanny way this illustration has a similarity to Beach’s illustration of the rodent in Fig 5. It is not difficult to see how seemingly different visualizations of different aspects of sociology lead to the same picture even though figure 6 is not consciously intended to resemble events in the pied piper of Hamlin.

So! Can King Arthur be President of America?

Asking a philosophical question about King Arthur poses the problem that King Arthur exists. Since our perception about King Arthur is not complete, we can accept that the myth exists and so he exists along with his virtues as imagined, say, in Lerner and Lowe’s Camelot However, this myth does not mention King Arthur’s attitude to democracy. He was advised by Merlin who was a magician,to King Arthur.

How will King Arthur persuade the folks of America to vote for him.

We wont tie ourselves into a Gordian knot with this but go ahead regardless --- as Alexander would have done without untying the knot but slashing through it philosophically, perhaps using Ockham’s razor. .

The question is whether one can elect the President of a Nation by the majority of votes made by individuals. This is especially so when these individuals cannot make, by their own inclination, a serious choice that would be important in their decision making after an in-depth examination of all issues.

Therefore tutoring is required. It is usually in the form of an election campaign.

King Arthur would have to know his constituency and postulate on promises that would be appealing.

This reminds me one of Bertrand Russell’s (Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy, 1919) famous quotes: “The method of 'postulating' what we want has many advantages ; they are the same as the advantages of theft over honest toil. Let us leave them to others and proceed with our honest toil ...” Russell was referring to the use of postulates for “ ... fundamental objects of mathematics such as the Peano axioms (e.g., 0 is a natural number) for the natural numbers ,,,

In order to be President of America the King of Camelot should explain his virtues by postulates that would satisfy the modern American citizen so much that they would vote for him.

One may take the traditional false postulate route.

This campaign is run by a group of advisors, appointed or anointed by those who finance the campaign.

Their power of influencing voters would depend on the amount of money they make an on-beat policeman.or a vendor.If one goes by the popularity scale on Youtube sex video are seen ordinarily by tens to hundreds of millions while the highest views of a physics lecture (Leonard Susskind’s General theory of Relativity) or a lecture on DNA lreplication is ~ 750,000. On the other hand a Mark Hamilton’s Neothink Society’s highly dubious lecture to get rid of poverty by becoming a hard core (http://www.youtube.com/user/neothinksociety?v=OkxjnnBL7V8&feature=pyv) libertarian has more than three million viewership!.

By this token, sex worker (even if she calls herself a prostitute) or an internet entrepreneur hosting sexually explicit sites, or an actor of perversion is equated in society with an academic professor, or a salvation army worker, or the vendor of inventions.

Obama perhaps even sees more political advantage of having the promise from Madonna (not mother of Christ) to strip nude should he win. One is not sure whether Romney would encourage such a trip because of the potential of a visual disaster making voters shy away from Obama’s win.

Obama plays the image game fully as a seasoned President would do... He is nowhere as honest as Jimmy Carter. Obama’s image of walking into a beer bar to be picked up by a folksy white man is part of this strategy, especially at a time when the Caucasian American (> 75 % of voters) is thought to be almost completely polarized against him.

One may as well ask whether viewership of youtube videos reflects the attitude of different sections of the population towards the different activities of society. One could then ask whether the language of candidates in a presidential election should be closer to the language and idioms as reflected on youtube (for example).

In this buzz of the swarm intelligence, differences and similarities between people are smoothened out into an acceptable paradigm for selecting presidents. There does not seem to be any synthesis of real contradictions in this swarm from the melting pot which has “... distinctive qualities ... washed out into a tasteless, colorless fluid of uniformity. “

At the same time in the usual election campaign, there seems to be only an antithesis for every thesis at the most black-and-white, rich-and-poor, christian-and-terrorist, gay-and-glum levels. Such contained differences provide the high temperatures of the melting point that describes the mixing of American people.

King arthur may find advantage in taking the more folksy or pagan route.

There is little chance of finding self-less folksy advisers in modern times. However, there needs to be every chance that the advice is plain and simple with not only folksy images --- the picking up of babies, shaking of hands, kissing of sweet old ladies or getting bear-hugged by a hard hat --- not also folksy idioms

What should King Arthur honestly postulate to win the votes of Americans? Will he have to subscribe to the notion that he is Christian of true Norman blood that fought the crusades against Muslims and claim advantage as a sworn antiterrorist in modern America? Or, will he claim his Welsh pagan lineage? (There are not many American Presidents who claim Welsh lineage proudly).

Claiming a pagan lineage could be advantageous to King Arthur, since the percentage of American citizens now being born to non-Caucasian parents is more than 50 percent and by 2030 they will have the power to vote.

If the ordinary folks would like to live their lives in the way that make May festivals attractive, their lives would necessary have to be one in which they work hard to run their daily life. Not so long ago, say, in the Norman Rockwell times, one could have had an idyllic picture. The middle-class workers’ lives involved non-automated skill which they were proud of. Their gadget-less housewives uncomplainingly spent their time working for their home with all the responsibilities that come from their pride in their family. In such a case a few days of merriment in a year would have been especially welcome, and provided the faith to work on their daily life till the next festival.

In this scenario the governance that is required is primarily that from the family itself, and the role of a government is to facilitate this daily life of self-governance and self-sustained good health, No self-respecting man wants charity even if it is the form of financially motivated health care scheme.

Most important of all is that by claiming a pagan lineage he gets rid of all the Christian mumbo jumbo. He can then set pagan life as the desirable life of the American that comes out of the melting pot.

He will also have the advantage of not knowing about all the divisive religious elements. He would believe in simple truths which are now gospel.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well."
-Matthew 5:38-40

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."
-Matthew 7:3-5

Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself."
-Matthew 19:19

The America with these ideals could become the future Camelot over which King Arthur would easily reign over. This will be an interpretation of Israel Zangwill’s David continuing with his melting-point dialogue with

... the real American has not yet arrived. He is only in the Crucible, I tell you—he will be the fusion of all races, perhaps the coming superman. Ah, what a glorious Finale for my symphony—if I can only write it.

After all, Israel Zangwill has also been credited (in his book “The Grandchildren of the Ghetto”) with the quote “Scratch the Christian and you find the pagan - spoiled.” Somewhere in the internet it has also been said “scratch the pagan and you will find the shaman” ... the spirit of the holy ghost.

Zangwill also goes on about the Jews
The Hebrew view of life is too one-sided. The Bible is a literature without a laugh in it.”. This view is probably applicable to severely mono-theistic religions such as Islam and Judaism.

If the American Democracy becomes too severely de-hyphenated it could acquire the third characteristic of the snark:

... its slowness in taking a jest.
Should you happen to venture on one, 
It will sigh like a thing that is deeply distressed:
And it always looks grave at a pun.


The only snag would be Lancelot!






3 comments:

goetzkluge said...

"Other similarities have been noticed, however, between the drawing of a weed and Darwin’s sketch on the tree of life." Yes, I admit: Ididdit!! And I am not sure about this, as faksimile prints from Darwin's "tree of life" perhaps still were not available to Henry Holiday (Lewis Carroll's Snark illustrator) in and before 1876. -- By the way: As Flickr became too messy, now http://www.ipernity.com/doc/goetzkluge/album/370833 is the Snark&Darwin hunting ground. -- And “What I tell you three times is true” of course can be applied in Haskell: http://www.ipernity.com/doc/goetzkluge/21710521 ;-) -- Regards from Munich, Götz

goetzkluge said...

You write: "The storyteller has many times perhaps little use for the empirical or the philosophical sciences. His successes depend on the acceptability/gullibility of his readers and their own private biases of their life-experiences." Which success would that be? There is more in storytelling than malicious intent. As for the Snark, the empirical scientist Dodgson helped the storyteller Carroll to make empirism difficult. And his Illustrator Henry Holiday had to make sure that he cannot be blamed for being naughty. http://www.ipernity.com/doc/goetzkluge/album/428563?view=1

A good example for an empirical scientist who knew the limits of empirism is Martin Gardner's "Annotated Snark". Here, as for any possible "meanings" of "The Hunting of the Snark", this empirical scientist and master of debunking allowed himself to offer many guesses and assumptions. By design, the Snark is the place where you can do that.

goetzkluge said...

As for "Henry Holiday’s sketch of the bellman has quite a resemblance to Charles Darwin", this may be what you are looking for: http://www.ipernity.com/doc/goetzkluge/26639143.