Monday, November 11, 2019

F*ck STEM!

Even the mainstream media writes, f*ck so I guess I can too, right? As are a lot of people, or so I imagine, I am disgusted by this bandwagon promoting STEM for women. I happen to know people inside both academia and the domain described by ST*M who are nearly as disgusted as I am, but let's dissect this a bit, shall we?

First and quite obviously is the embedded pig-in-a-poke bargain that if girls - and later women - behave more like men do, then they will be able to share the C-ring more better. Plenty of people call that bullshit what it is, especially when the tech is being pandered to the underclass. As though there is something about the orthogonal logical thinking of STEM which can reveal the true meritocratic underpinnings of humanity which don't obey the laws of power.

Just be more like men, girls, just be more like men.

Next, of course, is the assumption that tech is our future. I just re-read Fowles The Magus, not really expecting much. Indeed it didn't disappoint, not being nearly so compelling as it was in my youth, but the one thing the author says that still resonates is that his worst nightmare was mankind knowing everything. Tech builds in that assumption, as in we can problem-solve to eternity.

I live in proximity to someone who rode the tech wave to wealth and who deploys logic like a weapon, as though he had no choice because the harm was built-in to the algorithm, with which no person of sound mind might disagree. Conveniently leaving go the choices made in the concoction of the algorithm in the first place. But if one has a powerful knack for logic, there's almost nothing any interlocutor might do to rescue himself from loss of any argument. Indeed you are smarter than I am and I can't find a way to prove that false. I lose energy for sparring at the very least.

There is a power-play indelible to the inner workings of the tech industry which still manages to be invisible on the outside. Well, it's familiar enough to anyone who suffers the fascism of corporate America inside the workplace, I guess. But it's more prevalent in patriarchal tech. The boss assumes the attitude of  'prove it to me,' leaving the penalties of being wrong to every underling.

I happen to be an extremely good problem solver, proven in various workplaces, but only recently have I discovered my own assumption that my abilities have been based on something like a command of logic. Not so! But who would ever dare to say "trust me" in the face of profit-line demands given the problem-solving methods I deploy. Let m explain:

I always work within the constraints of resources - time and money mostly - and never in the realm of what-if? Without practically limitless resources, 'what-if' is practically worthless. I have no infinity of choice, of tools, of top brands, of hiring. So I let my mind wander until, as happens often enough to make it a kind of wonder, a solution will show itself from my environment. This gives me a kind of joy, making good with found objects and emergent technique. I often kick myself for not seeing the obvious when I'm caught up in some logical trap of knowing where I should be looking. I'm always dazzled by the invisibility of what's staring me in the face.

This not-logic that I deploy, or if it is logic, then  it's the self-same apologetics our ego uses when it rationalizes choice that our mind already made for us. This is all apparently proven by neurological studies, which show our decisions made before we are conscious of them.

I know, of course, that my brain covers a lot more ground than my conscious mind does, and so letting go might simply be letting my brain do a better job of sorting before I get in my own way, as it were. But that's only a different way to say that my brain is closer to the ground in which I exist than my conscious self is.

I recently re-read Donna Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto and will have to read it many times more before I can understand it, because it still does seem to me to incorporate the nightmare of tech taking over the world. Like we should be able to make ourselves whatever we want to be in celebration of the mighty (conscious) individual so as never to be caught in what chance granted us. I get the celebration of difference, but tend more in the direction of social rather than individual solutions or resolutions. More tolerance and more mutual-aid trumps techno-triumph every time for me, but I guess I'm just old fashioned that way. I'll read it and her other stuff over and over until I get it, since I do recognize excitement there. But it remains harder for me to read than to read ancient Chinese.

Part of my excitement is that the manifesto comes from a woman, and I do suspect that she would agree with me about STEM. Even our economy depends as much or more on "creatives" than on logical problem-solvers, and I say that even as I hate the term "creative" as a noun almost worse than STEM. Yeah, sure as an afterthought one might insert an A to get STEaM, sneaking in something not quite orthogonal. But to me, who doesn't draw or sing or dance so good, the term "creative" is like a bludgeon about what I'm not. Just like car mechanics used to feel to many females of the species who wanted to get into it but were barred.

So the predominantly masculine nature of the tech workforce can't be fixed because baked into the workings of tech is a mindset that needs to be undermined, not celebrated. Not everything can be fixed. Sometimes one has to let go.

Hell, I'll go so far as to claim that letting go is communing with the future. That's how evolution works, where chance is chance until it makes us, and then there's some stubborn determiNancy to the process. We can't quite seem to embrace the notion that accident got us mankind, in the same way that we can't quite embrace the notion - we scintillate between the poles - that evolution is more powerful than our apparent and anxiety-provoking conviction that we've replaced evolution with conscious trans-human change. Some might even call it improvement. Progress. It's own kind of inevitable Manifest Destiny.

But that's all variations on projected immortality. No more can we celebrate our own demise than we can that of the species, and so we enact a kind of 'bring it on' mass suicide like a kid driving a Boxter into thin air, as just happens to have just happened.

Even though I problem-solve in the highly masculine domains of tech and machinery, I do believe I follow a feminine process. That might even be the cause of some embarrassment, and so I try to hide it by post-hoc logical rationalizations for my choices, in just the way that pride for my intelligence works. I do a pretty good imitation of a man most of the time. But I do have lots of pussy envy. I think it's the emotion thing.

But see, I've committed the very masculine act of putting emotion among the basic forces of physics, and still waste my life trying to get one single other human being to see it there. I come to that conclusion by way of physics, yes, but also by way of classical Chinese poetics and philosophy and apparently by way of stuff I've been stuck with since birth. As in there's something very wrong with that boy, maybe, although just as I fake being a man pretty well, I seem to fake intelligence. Sometimes people even mistake me for someone who knows what he's talking about, thought that's generally because of my strident efforts to pass. It sucks to be thought an idiot! And so I mostly remain silent to preserve a modicum of doubt. Except here in my innermost thoughts where I can be so invisible.

Very much unlike canonical scientific discoveries, mine is truly meaningless without being shared. Well, I suppose that's true of scientific discovery too, but the proof is always logical - and demonstrable! - and the discoveries - despite our canonical presumptions about individual genius - are always grounded in a shared understanding. An esoteric discourse. That guarantees that once explicated logically, there will be others to understand the discovery and make it real. (It is still terribly difficult for me to credit Einstein's discoveries with the short course from there - while Henry Adams was still alive, fer Chrissakes - to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.) Emotion has been eradicated for seeming ever from the cosmos, or so we desperately hope and sometimes even pray.

I'm either criminally lazy or just simply don't have the chops, but I can't seem to express what I'm talking about in a way that someone else might follow. I do have an easier time finding interlocutors in China, though I suspect that has more to do with the reading-in they must do to follow what I'm trying to say. A kind of generosity offered to a foreigner; one who they still feel holds some privilege over them and perhaps something like superior Yale-baked knowledge. Yale is a kind of mecca for educated Chinese. Go figure! I hated the place for its privileging of the privileged, mocked now in the fake news, even so.

But still, I find the language congenial enough that I'm making my attempt in Chinese, which is so deuced hard that the attempt may belie my worries about how lazy I might be. At the moment I'm hung up on translating a passage from The Story of the Stone. It's too damned hard for me! But fact is that Chinese - the literary tradition - doesn't bake in all of the pitfalls of English. I'm talking about individualism, Godism, objectivity, creation and creativity, beginnings and endings, a direction to history and lots more. It's just easier to talk about in Chinese, damn it!

We are living, I declare, in a default universe where our defaults are invisible because we have no way to get beyond them. We know science won't solve all our problems but it's our default. We know - even provably so - that logic can't get to the bottom of what causes people to agree or disagree, but it remains our default. Zuckerberg sits in the same seat as Truman did and Trump does and will feel just as detached from the enormity of his destructions. They are our defaults. The default ever shall be death; of at least this much I can be certain.

So how does recognition that emotion is a cosmic force change the default? Yes indeed that is my burden to tell, and I have no demonstrable experimental result to prove anything by our default methodologies.

So f*ck it! Right? Nah, it'll come to me, I know it will. Once upon a time . . .

. . . there was this emoton. It had no mass, no valence, no spin, indeed no measurable qualities at all, nor did it move, really. It was no gauge-boson, or at least not the ordinary kind. Indeed, it existed only in the mind. The cosmic mind, if you will, which is no-wise the same thing as the personalized mind of God. Both were there in the beginning, were there any beginning but for a story, and the exchange of emotons did indeed not so much cause a force as predict an impingement. We're still in the realm of mind here and not so much of matter. But the impingement is of thingy things, the forces among which are mediated by gauge bosons, I think maybe, and which are implicated in ways mostly physical until once gets into the realm of quanta where implication may stretch to eternity, or so we hope for the sake of our privacy, ironically enough. The Chinese got there first. Of course.

Meanwhile, until impingement, there may be no forces as bodies move toward or away from one another. Just prediction. In some mind or other. The motion indeed is no motion at all but emotion. Otherwise, there would be forces between them - those bodies - by very definition.

Gravity at the least would be there, which remains so elusive. For all that they might be real, gravitons feel as elusive as those emotons I speak of. They may only be inferred and their measurement as much an artifact of its construction as the detection of any apparatus. Or so it would seem to me. But what do I know? Not much! I seem to inhabit a discourse community of one, which is precisely as impossible as the detection of said emoton.

Which all naturally means that alien life, so called, has been with us all along. We just don't feel it. It is so very far away in space and therefore, by definition now, time. But, I do declare, there is a window into our futures just as there is a window - however unreliable - into our past by way of history and telescopic insights. It must be felt and can't be known and whether asteroid to destroy us in our climate-denial idiocy, or full embrace of cosmic love (I should say with), we would have to open ourselves to it and not hang on so much to what we are or want to be. As it was in the beginning. Amen. It is our holding on to what we are or project to be that is our undoing. Duh! For sure, money is no measure of the man. Money is the efficient cause of machine mind, emotion-free and not implicated in any crime. I'd better shut up right there. Sheesh. Watching too much Bill Gates and Jamie Dimon on TV. Simpletons.

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