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June 04, 2013

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Goldwater presaged the Republican Party's hard-right turn in philosophy and optics That is, he made grand oversimplifications the foundation of a new politics where citizens were, if wealthy enough, "rugged individualists" who didn't need or want government in their lives. If they were merely white, however, they could join the club by virtue of their shared victim status in a new era of activist government. Goldwater was not a bigot except that his politics were functionally bigoted, much like the Republican Party of today. The code words "states' rights", "freedom", "individualism" stroked the race-conscious id of white America. Goldwater knew this even if he was a regular guy with an attractive personality.

A lot has been made of Goldwater's later epiphanies such as his disdain for Jerry Falwell and his embrace of gay dignity. I suspect Goldwater dealt with the contradictions of modern conservatism the way most people still do - with ad hoc deviations from the tribal solidarity of traditional Americanism. Modern society had created something altogether new in that market values superseded older values. There was no room for antique prejudices in this brave new world, but the linchpin of modern conservatism was located precisely where race and identity were most resistant to this change: the South.

Goldwater's legacy is a contradiction of itself by itself. He loved the land but hated protecting it. He loved freedom but only for those who could purchase it through wealth and power, and then only as a vector of conformity. He loved the military, and then blindly overlooked the federal government's open checkbook that made it so huge. The man was exquisitely equipped to be the visual symbol of a nation unmoored by relentless change. But his long life showed the same ravages of logic one sees in a demented aunt. Time doesn't stop even though thinking in closed loops can make it seem that way.

Goldwater. Just another political hypocrite who hated the TVA yet supported the Central Arizona Project. Got his ass handed to him by the voters of 1964 who fought in WW2, fought in Korea, and built post WW2 America.

Herblock "said" it best.

@dawgzy & Rouge....Outstanding.

After speaking to older relatives, including my parents, I was told that many went to school (in the 1940's and 1950's) with White classmates. Granted, they went to school in smaller communities west of Phoenix (Buckeye, Tolleson, Glendale, and Peoria). Were the schools segregated for all minorities in earlier years? Did this only occur in Phoenix? I know segregation was made legal in 1909 in the Arizona Territory. However, I cannot find examples beyond the George Washington Carver High School (Phoenix Union Colored High School) of schools in Arizona that were segregated. My great aunt, in her late 80's, remembers being "segregated" until learning to speak better English. But she also doesn't remember any Black students in her school.

I accidentally posted the above comment in one of your older articles, Phoenix 101: Minorities. I was looking up any information on segregation in Phoenix and found that page.

Soleri: I marvel at your ability to weave words. In very few sentences, you capsulized Barry's contrasts and contradictions.

Sherman Alexie might have an interesting opinion.

"Goldwater's career is full of such unsettling questions, however much 'Zonies want to love him, liberals want to use him as a cudgel against today's right-wing loonies and he has been cast in bronze as a 'principled conservative.'" -- Thank you! And if I see one more liberal posting a pic of St. Ronald of Reagan attached to an out-of context quote, I'm gonna hurl.

Goldwater's three most damning things, in my opinion, were his opposition to civil rights, letting Glen Canyon Dam destroy Glen Canyon, and the Central Arizona Project (a socialist ponzi scheme for the REIT funded by us taxpayers).

The Herblock cartoon is very topical even today. The best way to make money is to of course inherit it and at least have a modicum of brains to grow it (look at the Kochs, Waltons, and even that moron Trump).

cal, Bill Moyers has a great interview with Alexie on his website. Give it a watch:

http://billmoyers.com/segment/sherman-alexie-on-living-outside-borders/

This looks like a great, nuanced remembrance. I'm going to defer additional comment until I have more time to give it the careful read it deserves, but in passing, I can't help but notice that, in this particular photograph, he reminds me just a little of Fidel Castro at a similar age:

http://i.cdn.turner.com/trutv/trutv.com/graphics/conspiracy/gallery/government/dictator-fashion/fidel-castro.jpg

Now that's apophenia, Emil!

Viva la contrarrevolución!

:D

Apophenia
what do Fidel Castro and Sonny Barger have that Barry Goldwater didnt

... a 4" penis?

Apophenia = the "unmotivated seeing of connections" accompanied by a "specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness"

I think that sums up the Kooks and Wimps.

headless lucy, how did you know that?

Actually, apophenia is the hallmark of genius.

And madness.

4" penis
Maybe (skull)headless lucy has been keeping an eye out.

Actually, apophenia is the hallmark of genius. And madness.

AZ Rebel you think Petro qualifies

Madness indeed!

I had to type this in to get the last post up:

aqueoglacial

I really thought it a real word. Apophenia?

I thought Apophenia was Michael Corleone's girlfriend when he was hiding out in Italy.

And the Reb demonstrates that not all meaningless connections are unpleasant.

Is it even possible to write a "magisterial biography" about Goldwater? While I understand his importance as a pivotal figure in the Republican Party during its geographic shift away from the east coast to the west and south, what else is there about him that merits someone like Robert Caro to explore his life? The great figures of modern American history actually accomplished things that made a difference in ordinary lives and the national destiny. Goldwater accomplished virtually nothing besides getting elected senator (and just barely at the end, squeaking out a 7,000 vote victory over neophyte William Schulz in 1980).

The sad truth here is that Goldwater's relative importance is only as a forerunner to the inarguable importance of Ronald Reagan. Goldwater was not a giant in the US Senate. He could have delivered a lot of pork to Arizona but did not (because he didn't have to. That's the advantage of being a "legend", particularly a lazy one like Goldwater). He didn't galvanize the white reaction to the civil rights struggle (give credit to George Wallace and Richard Nixon for that "accomplishment"). And he didn't command the attention and respect of the American citizens aside from his self-important pilgrimage to the White House to tell Nixon it was over. Nixon knew it was over. He didn't need Goldwater or Rhodes to tell him that.

The last 20-some years of Goldwater's public life were spent in a kind of reaction against the people and ideas he helped unleash. This is probably the only reason we really respect him. Finally a "conservative" who got how awful modern conservatism really is! But by that point, his usefulness as a counterweight to right-wing triumphalism was essentially too little, too late. History had passed him by not because he was a prophet born too soon but because he was more a harrumphing curmudgeon than a real leader.

Easily the best summing up of Goldwater I've seen. Bravo. Some insightful contributions by Soleri also (very finely expressed, as usual). And I second Diane D'Angelo's sentiments.

Great word, Petro, and very useful too. A pleasure to have to look it up. I must remember it.

The definition makes for an interesting philosophical discussion. Here, I'm going to go with A.J. Ayer's definition of philosophy as a tool for analyzing language and thus the ideas the language is supposed to express.

Apophenia: "The experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data."

All patterns and connections are imposed by the observer. Meaning is also conferred by the observer. So, we're left with the concept of "random or meaningless data".

The word "random" opens up a whole separate can of worms -- whole books have been written trying to define it or trying to demonstrate that it can't be well defined -- so let's stick with "meaningless".

What determines whether data is meaningless? The observer. Since no observer simultaneously claims that data is meaningful and meaningless, what we're really talking about are two or more different observers, or putative observers, disagreeing about whether some particular data is meaningful or meaningless.

What objective agency resolves the disagreement? We only have recourse to other putative observers (whether actual or illusory). So, the resolution of such questions (insofar as it is accepted by any particular observer) can only be determined by one of three things: (1) his own personal perceptions; (2) popular consensus (also known as truth-by-voting); or (3) "expert" opinion.

Since each observer must decide whether either consensus or expert opinion are valid and compelling methods of resolving the truth, we're really back to the fact that each observer must individually determine the meaningfulness or meaninglessness of some particular data.

Let's also note that not all putative observers are real observers. Dream figures disagreeing with me have no actual perceptions and are not legitimate sources of contrasting opinion. As a solipsist I also believe that the world itself is a creation of mind, and therefore that the particular meanings which appear for the observer are in fact created by the observer as well as perceived by him.

I'm tellin' ya Emil, we make a fine pair.

Your thesis is that the self is the only reality, while I hold close that the self is a fiction.

If we can each refrain from accusing the other from being delusional, some useful ground could be covered. (As long, I suppose, as we can both admit that our positions are - unavoidably - provisional, yes?)

But "apophenia," yes - to flesh out my quip about genius and madness... I agree that it is difficult to objectively define what is truly random or meaningless, but we are imprinted very early in life with a structure that defines what the bounds of "sensible" associations are. Some of that, I'm sure, is biologically imposed by our evolutionary past, but a I suspect great deal of it (like the Jungian archetypes) is socially imposed even during our pre-verbal years (before thought itself begins to articulate.)

A person who cracks that "cosmic egg" of subjective sensibility is in great danger of a psychotic break, but if by chance or skill is able to measure the crazy that emerges from that abyss against the acceptable structure, to bust out of the structure and still hold on enough to communicate within it, well, that's where the genius of creativity is born.

*Sorry - self is the only verifiable reality. Which is even more interesting when I flat out call this "solely" verifiable thing a fiction. :)

ABSURD ?

The adage that you're known by the company you keep is very selectively applied. I don't know whether Goldwater was just a mob groupie, or whether he and Bob were in deep, but Arizonan's acceptance of those associations, and the Arizona Republic's reluctance to harp on it might have led to the environment in which Arizona now finds itself, one in which the Attorney General can't even trade in the stock market, and the most powerful political players are constantly caught up in laughably bizaare scandals, but still get re-elected, and continue to rise to even higher elected positions.

Well Pat U R on to something here. And I been around long enough to know Jon could write a book of fact on your suspicions. Probably the most "honest" AG this state ever had, had a deal.Only after that AG left did legalized gambling of any kind come to Arizona.
At least in Hudson county the crooks are more colorful and the food is better.

Petro, if the self is a fiction, whose fiction is it?

Regarding genius and madness, the closer I look at the world, the more it seems like a form of madness: a tangle of threads that don't really connect, posing as a skein that must be unraveled, but which cannot be untied because it was never a real knot to begin with; that the tangle itself provides the illusion of continuity and coherence, and serious attempts to unravel it merely disintegrate it, reducing it to its elements and to the power which "unifies" them.

Consider something as simple and generic as "two things which meet at a border". Of what does the "border" consist? If there is anything separating the two things, then by definition they do not "meet"; but if there is nothing between them then they coincide and cannot be "two things".

This problem, expressed above in spatial terms, can also be expressed in temporal terms: How can X "become" something else (not-X)?

Can an idea "become" a different idea? If not, how can a thing (a manifestation or expression of an idea) "become" a different thing? But if you reject this philosophical formulation, consider the problem in starkly logical terms.

Before the transformation, you have X. After the transformation, you have not-X. The "transformation" serves the same function here as the border did in the previous example: it is a kind of temporal "border".

Of what does the transformation consist, logically speaking? That is, what exists during the transformation itself? (We've already said that X exists before and not-X exists after.)

Either X exists or it doesn't (not-X) but there is no third option. You can have X, or you can have not-X, but you can't have both at the same time, and you can't have neither.

So, your choice of what exists at the point of transformation is either X or not-X; but since the transformation is supposed to be a bridge process taking X into not-X it's clear that there is nothing from which to construct such a bridge. There can be no logical act of X "becoming" not-X because there is no logical entity to support a process or state of "becoming".

Here's another simple question that gets to the fundamentals: How long is "now"? If "now" has any length at all it can be subdivided into parts, some of which are earlier, and some later, than the middle part; but a period containing past, present, and future together isn't what the word "now" means. Now means "the present". On the other hand, if "now" has no length then it does not exist at all.

Everywhere I look in the foundations of mathematics and science, I see contradictory premises, nothings posing as something, and infinite regresses that can lead nowhere.

I also see attempts at "rigor" which are doomed because all definitions are circular and ultimately depend on primitive (undefined) terms. Every dictionary is finite, hence every word must point to another word.

Every formal argument is finite (if it weren't the conclusion could never be reached), which means that the premises are necessarily unproven. If you create a new argument to prove those premises, that new argument itself contains unproven premises. There is no logical escape from this. And it's important to remember that the conclusions of formal proofs (or other arguments) follow only from the premises; if you use false (or contradictory) premises, you can derive all kinds of false conclusions.

The meaning of primitive terms can only be assigned by an observer through an associative process, and truth can only be known by direct apprehension. None of which is to say that logic isn't a useful tool, but it helps to apply logic to itself to understand the limitations of formal proofs.

A clarification for Petro: I define solipsism (my own variety) to refer to a condition in which: (a) the universe (my universe) is the creation of my mind, or at least the manifestation of my mental resources (which is not to say that it is by design, desirable, or free from corruption -- quite the contrary); and (b) I am the only sentient being in that universe.

Theoretically, one could be a solipsist in this sense while believing in (or in the theoretical possibility of) other minds; it's just that they would have to exist in their own universes. One might even postulate communication of a sort between universes, facilitated by a non-sentient intermediary. An example of this would be a computer simulation in which each individual's world exists only in their head and any attempts at communication are passed on (or not passed on), with or without alteration or corruption, by the computer(s) running the simulation. Of course, a computer capable of recreating simulated expressions of real persons would be capable of creating simulated expressions of non-existent persons (in fact, it might be less work and easier to synchronize), resulting in some degree of (or complete) isolation of each individual.

I'm absolutely convinced, on excellent evidence accumulated over decades, that this is a fake world. The computer simulation idea is the best "conventional" (i.e., scientific or quasi-scientific) hypothesis consistent with that fact (and with many of the details observed); but for various reasons I have essentially abandoned that hypothesis in favor of a metaphysical one.

A follow-up comment to Petro was eaten by the spam trap and awaits Mr. Talton's convenience to be resurrected.

P.S. It now appears above. (Fast work!)

Emil,

Short answer: There is no "who." Why would I grant an identity to any entity. if I deny it for my (ahem) self? :)

In observing the movement of thought, it appears that there a number of "selves" - or centers from which observation is made. To observe an aspect of my consciousness, I detach from it in order to objectify it, creating a new center, and in the effort to see this new "me," I spawn another, etc. - the result being the realization that my identity-of-the-moment (that thing that we reflexively imagine being a point about an inch or so behind our eyes), is a bit of a phantom.

This shifting of the center is apparent in involuntary form, when we find ourselves taken over by a mood or an emotion - where the transformation of who "I" am is apparent even to the people around me. I, of course, cobble together a semblance of a coherent identity through a stubborn and willful effort to have these different parts remain aware of each other and allow them to negotiate for their time in "the cockpit," or to operate in with a sort of parliamentary consensus. (Some forms of mental illness - popularly misconstrued as "schizophrenia" - display the symptoms of when this healthy self-awareness is not achieved.)

It is my feeling that we are fundamentally aware of the fiction of the self, and it is this that explains the fundamental insecurity from which we cannot escape. Indeed, it is when this knowledge comes to the fore of consciousness that we are driven to "protest too loudly" and behave in the most defensive and egocentric behavior (the disciplines that Eastern philosophies cultivate are designed to obviate such reactionary behavior as the true nature of "selfhood" is mined.)

It is not apophenic to point out (haha,) that this concept of the structure of the self, which is really the study of the movement of thought, is directly related to the questions regarding boundaries and transformation you have brought up.

You are correct in stating that the boundary is an illusion, and that transformation does not result in anything new (if I am understanding you correctly.) "X" and "not-X" are not distinct at all, except in the most superficial sense - one comes from the other. All duality is illusion, but that is a threatening revelation for thought to apprehend, since duality is the very thing that thought rests upon in the most fundamental, existential sense.

In order for the first thought to begin, the first mark - the first division - must be created, literally out of nothing. That first division is "I" and "not-I". Only when this is done does thought begin its movement.

That is why I have always found Descartes' "proof" of self - Cogito ergo sum - to be nothing more than a tautology.

Of course, none of this de-mystifies the astonishing fact that I am here, observing, in the world, for this brief moment, this slice - where it appears that I was not for eternity past, and where I will not be for eternity ahead. This continues to stun me, and that is all the religion I need.

I see that you have commented further while I was working this up - I wish to submit for your approval the observation that the structure of reality that you have postulated is necessarily more complex in order to accommodate your solipsistic premise, and so I claim advantage under the strictures of Occam's Razor. :)

(Tip o' the hat to Jon for tolerating this crazy shit in his Goldwater thread. And my apologies to everyone else.)

One thing I'd like to add is that in our struggle to understand the "nature of reality," we are constrained in that all of our endeavor only results in the metaphor of reality that we construct inside our minds, using thought. It may be an elegant and sophisticated metaphor (look what Einstein has pulled off!), but it is still necessarily a subset of what it "really" is. We are "of" reality, and it will never be the other way around (no matter what the philosophers who posit the primacy of consciousness like to, um, think. As in "all is consciousness," etc.)

If looked at from the angle that thought itself has its root in fragmentation - the creation of the first division - the notion of understanding totality becomes even more absurd. Reality can only be beheld, not contained.

Azrebel now u know

apophenic
Jon, Since we are on Barry, how about the Biltmore Circle, in 1966. I was the paper boy for this private road just on the edge of the Biltmore Hotel and the Wrigley Mansion. My customers for the Arizona Republic were Jay Rockfeller, Bob Goldwater, (Front room curtain was always open and a clear view was available of a large assortment of bottles), Mrs Cudahy, Robert Gosnell Sr., and The Singers, Nancy Reagans parents among others.

Petro, you use the words "I" and "my" as well as first person verb conjugations so many times in your paragraphs denying the self: how can the irony escape you?

The ability to respond to changing conditions with changed moods does not demonstrate the nonexistence of the self; to assert that the ability to feel different emotions is evidence of multiple selves (or no self at all, as you seem to claim), merely demonstrates only that your definition of "self" is insufficiently robust. It's a strawman argument. And anyway, who is feeling these various moods if not the self? How can you talk about "healthy self awareness" if there is no self? These kinds of claims suggest to me that I am conversing with a "machine intelligence" (or something akin to one) that has no understanding of consciousness because it doesn't have any.

Also, the ability to imagine things (including other personalities) or to concentrate on some aspect of one's own psychology, isn't what you claim either. You write "I" detach, "I" objectify, "I" create a "new center" (except that you do not, insofar as it is "I" that beholds and contemplates this supposed "new center" not the new center itself).

You fail the Turing test.

If there is no self, how come stores and gas stations have self serve?

No irony - language and thought are also dependent upon the first distinction, and so operate solely within the fiction of a self. Of course it speaks - I speak - from that fictional center as well. It cannot be any other way, unless I were moved to use the somewhat pretentious "royal we."

That's why it's hard to talk (think) about. It was literally twenty years after I intellectually understood this (thanks to the writings/lectures of Krishnamurti,) before I awoke to it as a palpable, experienced truth. So I understand, believe me.

I wasn't expecting to convert you to a new way of thinking about it here, I only wanted to offer it up for consideration - a little intellectual candy, as it were.

Somehow James Stewart, a year older than Goldwater, was not "too old" to be a combat pilot.

Also, give Goldwater credit as one of the architects of Arizona's 'Right-to-Work-for-Less' law, which forever condemned the state to its low-wage status. It also kept him from having to re-hire returning veterans who had worked in his store prior to the war.

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