All Alone is All We Will One Day Once Have Been: A Generation X Response to Thomas Friedman’s “Generation Q”
The Lonely Puppet by Jace Cavacini (Highly Functioning Autistic: Asperger’s Syndrome)
At least one of the anthems of my generation is “All Apologies” by Kurt Cobain of Nirvana fame. The refrain which repeats over and over again in the collective mind of our generation is “All alone is all we are. All alone is all we are…”
My dream is that in the not so distant future, we will be able to update that riff by giving it a happier, more hopeful ending. To do that, however, is going to take a little work, and a little working together in a process I call “social cogeneration,” because only by working together will we be able to stand together and tell the world:
No, Kurt got it wrong. All alone is all we will one day once have been.
All Alone is All We Will One Day Once Have Been
A Generation X Response to Thomas Friedman’s “Generation Q”
As a leading edge member of Generation X, a generation I affectionately refer to as the generation trapped between idealism and despair, told by our parents we could do anything we dreamed of doing, then told “no” every time we tried, I feel uniquely qualified to comment on Thomas Friedman’s October 10, 2007 column, Generation Q, in which he termed the current crop of college students the “Quiet Generation.”
It’s not so much that Mr. Friedman got it “wrong,” but that he could have gotten it more right. The younger generation — also known to marketers and within popular culture as “Generation Y,” denoting those born between 1981 and 1995 — is indeed quiet now, but this does not mean they will be quiet later because they are also very much the “Quick” Generation, brought up in the age of Information Explosion, Internet learning by association and Social Software.
Fractal, “object oriented,” relational thinkers in the mold of noted technologist Ray Kurzweil, a self-described “patternist,” they “get” things, intuitively, in a Malcolm Gladwell “Blink” of an eye, even before they have language by which to frame those thoughts and, sadly, one of the lessons they have learned, perhaps a bit too fast, is that nobody is listening.
In my view, many members of Generation Q are not so much “quiet” as frustrated and, possibly, even a bit depressed.
I don’t know this in theory, but in practice, in anecdotal, but all too tangible, form, because for the better part of the past three years I have spent thousands of hours interviewing and talking to and corresponding with, not just members of Gen Q, but with people of all ages, across all economic and geographical and race divides.
I communicate with these people here in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and on the streets of Manhattan, and on social software sites such as Flickr and Friendster, real life “participatory action research” by an aspiring professional human being who has made more than his fair share of mistakes. I tell these people stories — mostly in private, but also sometimes in public — stories about being a bit too “different,” about being a right-handed, right-brained thinker trying to follow a path with heart in a left brained world and not wanting anyone to know because I know what happens to those who dare to dream with the heart of a ten year old child…
They get trampled.
Sami Sheridan by Sean Sheridan
As such, in my view at least, the string theory community would do itself a service to embrace the possibility, not of the “miraculous” break through coming via the Standard Model alone, but via what Progressive Physicist David Bohm termed the implicate order (i.e. hidden or “enfolded”) that Lisi’s theory suggests.
In other words, it’s not this or that, but this and that because this is that. Not just the light and the dark — what artists might call the “positive and negative space” — but also the underlying order that threads them both together in celestial chiaroscuro.
In relation to the issue of Intelligent Design, all the rage in the news these days, you mention that clinging to Aristotle is both Anti-Science and Anti-Evolution. I both agree and disagree. Certainly clinging to Aristotle is both Anti-Science and Anti-Evolution, in my view, anyway, but “Einstein on a Surfboard,” A. Garrett Lisi‘s recent Grand Unification theory “An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything,” bringing the poor orphan of Physics, Gravity, out of the cold and into the Standard Model fold with the other three fundamental forces of nature via the E8 Lie Group — which at least some blogs are referring to as “Ptolemy’s Revenge” — would seem to suggest that a dialectical synthesis of old and new together, the precision of the technological Modern Age with the wisdom of the Ancients, may just be possible in a non-partisan, creed-blind manner.
Whatever your personal view of the theory, it has certainly generated a fair amount of interest from such notable Physicists as Lee Smolin, Peter Woit, and John Baez, while string theorists such as Karlovy-Vary, Czech Republic-based Lubos Motl are apoplectic, already proclaiming the fiery apocalypse, not just of planet Earth, but of the entire Universe! (from Motl’s blog post: Telegraph: Cosmologists are killing the Universe on Motl’s blog “Reference Frame“).
I would suggest that what has in large part created the “ruckus” of late in the Physics community is that many believe Lisi’s theory may lead to the New Dark Ages, a reversion to the blind mysticism and ignorance of the Pre-Galileans, with attendant political consequences that could severely threaten separation of church and state, one of the most sacrosanct bedrocks of any free and pluralistic society.
Thank you for sharing that information with me regarding your work on “Extended Relativistic Particle Physics.” You are not alone in your work in this area. I know of others doing similar work who are effectively “blacklisted” from the corridors of scientific progress [the Cornell Archives at ArXiv.org].
One way you can indirectly affect the debate is to send people to a thread on PhysOrg I have been posting to “Challenging Dominant Physics Paradigms.” I have made several posts you may find of interest since it was started. People need to get involved and have their voices heard, because silence is your worst enemy; because without the “shout out” to the world at large, no one else can hear the quietude I am positive rings all too clearly in your head. Here is a direct link to the second page of the thread…
Information, after all, is power, kind of the point of the conversation in the first place.
My feeling is that the Scientific Community may not be capable of dealing with this on their own as Noam Chomsky suggested [they ought to do] in his letter to Carlos Castro Perelman — the power dynamics are too entrenched — and the 4th Estate needs to get involved. As a microcosm of the bigger picture, in terms of FEAR — and the fact that you “half-expect” yourself to be relegated to the margin yourself is quite indicative of this dynamic — please do also take a gander here…
photo by Mattijn
We need to learn to “cogenerate” — meaning we need to start “creating together” (i.e. synergy) — with our teachers and they, in return, ought to think about how to co-generate back with us in a recriprocal manner because I’ve news for you, StevenA. The relational mind and the symbolically oriented mind is the wave of the future. Not only are we learning faster than ever before because we have more “data inputs” and the time between question and answer has decreased exponentially in my life time alone, but the way we are learning has changed also.
Let’s look at the exponents of that 2^(Fn) summation series I posted yesterday, because there’s an interesting connection between that and “convolution,” and I suspect it could be applied to signal processing, but first let’s look a little at…
WHAT WE’RE ACTUALLY DOING HERE…
… because contributing to, not polluting, the truth, is really what we are all about, or at least what I am all about, and we want to make sure that our critics understand that up front, because our goal is to work WITH and not against them and we believe the greatest form of “pollution” is to not ask the questions that need asking because we’re afraid to ask them.
When you get right down to it, StevenA, I suggest you conceive of the “Cognitive Physics” thread as an “exploratory lab.” What we are doing here, at least in part, is trying to prove the lie to this notion that you need a piece of paper to contribute to the broad spectrum of scientific knowledge and inquiry, or that you need a certain amount of “experience” in our expert-dominated culture, or that if you didn’t do it yesterday that means you can’t do it tomorrow.
What we are also doing here, at least in part, is that we are trying to open up the public mind to the value of innovation and experimention and learning through action and pattern recognition and constructed relationships, and allowing for error and failure, which is how many of the greatest thinkers of our time have thought, and also how at least Time magazine thinks we need to start thinking again in order to move our educational system out of the 20th Century.
“How to Build A Student For the 21st Century” – Time Magazine, December 18, 2006
Re-posted from Politinotions
Documented civilian deaths from violence as of November 25, 2007:
77,327 – 84,244
Of all rationales for the war, [the policy of preemption], I believe, is far and away the most misguided… if acted upon, it represents a much greater danger to world stability and peace than does Hussein. If preemption is okay for the U.S., then, as the world “leader” doesn’t this implicitly signal to other nations that preemption is a proper and acceptable course of action to follow when confronting an outside threat real or imagined? If we invade Iraq because of what they might do, what then stops India from invading Pakistan? China from invading Taiwan? Russia from invading Georgia? The police from arresting you because you visited a mosque? What kind of Pandora’s Box are we opening here?
March 3 & 7, 2003
Dear Friends & Family,
I don’t usually do this, but I believe in the U.N., I believe in diplomacy over force when possible, and I believe we must act in ways large or small to protect not just the substance but the spirit of our principles. My very small way of acting upon principle is to send out this e-mail and to urge any who receive it to give at least some consideration to reading the forwarded email below and signing the online petition it refers to. For those who do not want to read on, here is the link: [MoveOn.org link no longer active]
For what its worth, here is my take:
While the world community has generally been in agreement that Saddam Hussein is a horrific dictator who must not be allowed to run amuck, they have done little to force compliance with longstanding U.N. Security Resolution mandates. Thus, it is to Bush’s credit that the firm United States stance is finally forcing the issue. Ironically, however, Bush is now poised to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.