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Chaos versus rationalism

Chaos versus rationalism
January 05, 2009, 01:34:50 PM
Rationalism is the idea that we can set up mechanical models for reality and have them make sense. Problem: rationalism is usually interpreted in linear and not complex logic. (Just as utilitarian means "the best for the most" but becomes "what the most consider the best" through practical concerns of appeasing others. Linear logic can always be explained to a crowd. Complex logic will provoke accusations of witchcraft and elitism.)

Consequently, people invented the term "chaos theory" to describe chaos, a natural pattern-ordering that shows up in every aspect of reality, as opposed to disorder, or entropy -- an intermediate state of collapse after which point the chaotic order autopilot rights itself.

Most traditionally-minded people do not pay attention to this, writing it off with the rest of postmodernism. This may be correct, but it's also interesting to see how this debate mirrors the evolution of Romanticism.

Early Romanticism focused on the individual; later Romanticism clarified this to "the individual as measuring device," pointing to emotion, aesthetics and intuition as higher forms of reasoning than linear logic.

This battle still rages:

Quote
Nocera explores the age-old debate between those who assert that the best decisions are based on quantification and numbers, and those who base their decisions on more subjective degrees of belief about the uncertain future.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/04/magazine/04risk-t.html

Something in us inherently rebels at the idea of a single number to assess anything other than a single factor. Markets aren't a single factor, nor is life itself.

Reminds me of this:

Quote
We hear so many people admitting to feeling deeply dissatisfied. It reminds me of that wise observation about gross national product by Robert Kennedy 40 years ago, that it “measures everything except that which makes life worthwhile”.

...

The movement responsible for the imbalance - it is often called “Modernism” - rose to dominance at the start of the 20th century. Now, this movement must not be confused with the great social, economic and political advances of the earlier “modern” age, the many benefits of which endure to this day.

The “Modernism” to which I refer offered us an unrelenting emphasis upon a material and mechanistic view of the world. To quote from the Victoria and Albert Museum's foreword to its recent exhibition on Modernism: “Modernists had a Utopian desire to create a better world. They believed in technology as the key means to achieve social improvement and in the machine as a symbol of that aspiration.”

Thus the ground was laid for the arrival of those straight, efficient lines of Modernism with the aim of simplifying and standardising the world, making things as efficient and as convenient as possible. This is why the curved streets of towns became straight matrices and why we have so many buildings grouped into single- use zones, including those for living - most noxious of all, those high- rise blocks of flats that, throughout the 1960s and 70s, became the living quarters for thousands of people in every city across Europe and the US.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article5240226.ece

This is what he's talking about here: linear logic.

Modernism makes simple deductions and applies the universally, but in doing so, cuts out all other factors. There is no sense of seeing multiple logical factors at once. It's not markedly different than linear logic, it just refuses to distill itself down into a single number, or single yes/no (think of morality here), or single aspect. Reality requires more complex viewing.

I'm not sure I agree with the Romantics that emotion, intuition, et al can solve problems. I think good problem-solving logic solves problems, but that the logic must be non-linear. I think aesthetics are the most easily fooled sense we have but could be a good origin for assessing the results of logic, and I trust intuition if trained by perception of supremely logic things, like a study of mathematics, philosophy or nature.

Regarding heavy metal, I have always seen it as a Romanticist movement. It tries to be like Romantic classical music and it espouses the same themes. It's no different than Tolkien in this sense. It's a reaction to the back-ass-wardness of modernism that points out a whole lifestyle existed before, and we can have it again. What has conflicted metal has always been the division between early and late Romanticism: is it a drama of the individual, or is the individual a measurement of the divine?

What makes Romanticism so fascinating is that it persists and yet does not accomplish its goal. It is as if the army of poets, writers, artists, musicians, etc. got defeated by their own individualism, which let the people preaching a simpler and more destructive message (simplification of many factors into one is a form of reductionism, or deconstruction, that breaks down and does not create) take power instead. In metal as in civilization at large.

Re: Chaos versus rationalism
January 05, 2009, 02:13:05 PM
It is as if the 'army of poets, writers, artists, musicians etc.' was an army of poets, writers, artists and musicians etc., rather than an army of soldiers, leaders, politicians etc. with actual access to actual power.  Machiavelli's caveats concerning the unarmed prophet spring to mind in this context (though one need not be "armed" solely with the means of violence).  Art can illuminate.  It can uphold, glorify and make the abstract accessible.  It can champion ideals.  It cannot institute them or organize a society.  Ultimately, the Romantic movement 'failed'  to achieve concrete social results because its political arm (fascism) was defeated on the field of battle.  The underlying ideas are too strong to die out completely, which is why, historically, they find new vehicles to carry them in most generations

I don't necessarily see much tension between an "early" and a "late" Romanticism in metal as much as I see metal that has been co-opted back into the populist Modernism from which metal emerged (Pantera) or falling into the incoherent and defeatist mode of so-called "Postmodernism," which has been the mainstream face of anti-Modern sentiment (much of the "experimental" scene).

Septicemia

Re: Chaos versus rationalism
January 07, 2009, 12:09:34 AM
Ultimately, the Romantic movement 'failed'  to achieve concrete social results because its political arm (fascism) was defeated on the field of battle.  The underlying ideas are too strong to die out completely, which is why, historically, they find new vehicles to carry them in most generations

I have a limited perspective on this, but didn't all the Romantics eventually falter (Metal included)? Somehow their limited scope of thought brought about by their overabundance of emotion consumed them - through some form of self-destruction, be it depression, illness, or plain illogicality (Hitler, Varg).

Re: Chaos versus rationalism
January 07, 2009, 02:13:40 AM
Ultimately, the Romantic movement 'failed'  to achieve concrete social results because its political arm (fascism) was defeated on the field of battle.  The underlying ideas are too strong to die out completely, which is why, historically, they find new vehicles to carry them in most generations

I have a limited perspective on this, but didn't all the Romantics eventually falter (Metal included)? Somehow their limited scope of thought brought about by their overabundance of emotion consumed them - through some form of self-destruction, be it depression, illness, or plain illogicality (Hitler, Varg).

Off the top of my head, I don't think a William Blake, for instance, could be described as self-destructive, depressed, ill, or illogical.

Septicemia

Re: Chaos versus rationalism
January 07, 2009, 05:15:42 PM
Ultimately, the Romantic movement 'failed'  to achieve concrete social results because its political arm (fascism) was defeated on the field of battle.  The underlying ideas are too strong to die out completely, which is why, historically, they find new vehicles to carry them in most generations

I have a limited perspective on this, but didn't all the Romantics eventually falter (Metal included)? Somehow their limited scope of thought brought about by their overabundance of emotion consumed them - through some form of self-destruction, be it depression, illness, or plain illogicality (Hitler, Varg).

Off the top of my head, I don't think a William Blake, for instance, could be described as self-destructive, depressed, ill, or illogical.

Schumann, Nietzsche, Brahms, Chopin, etc.

Re: Chaos versus rationalism
January 07, 2009, 05:49:02 PM
Ultimately, the Romantic movement 'failed'  to achieve concrete social results because its political arm (fascism) was defeated on the field of battle.  The underlying ideas are too strong to die out completely, which is why, historically, they find new vehicles to carry them in most generations

I have a limited perspective on this, but didn't all the Romantics eventually falter (Metal included)? Somehow their limited scope of thought brought about by their overabundance of emotion consumed them - through some form of self-destruction, be it depression, illness, or plain illogicality (Hitler, Varg).

Off the top of my head, I don't think a William Blake, for instance, could be described as self-destructive, depressed, ill, or illogical.

Schumann, Nietzsche, Brahms, Chopin, etc.

right.  I believe there is something to what you're saying.  I DO believe strongly in the mind-body connection.  but let me offer up:  Goethe, Wordsworth, Blake, Emerson.  admittedly, there ARE probably more people that would fit your argument than mine.

Re: Chaos versus rationalism
January 07, 2009, 09:37:36 PM
Blake was later in the Romantic period, wasn't he? As were the American Romantics?

Romanticism is divided. First it had to birth itself, by defining itself apart from neoclassicism... then it had to refine itself.

Blake, Wordsworth, Milton, Emerson, Mary Shelley, Goethe and Poe seem to me more evolved than the run-of-the-mill frilly shirt wearing Romantic poet.

Re: Chaos versus rationalism
January 07, 2009, 11:05:11 PM
I think Blake would be early Romantic.  but, yes, the Americans were a little later down the road.