Member 2051
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Contributor to projects:
Start your own revolution
Marcus Baumgart (M, 49)
Melbourne, AU
Immortal since Jan 19, 2009
Uplinks: 0, Generation 3

My blog: A Flawed Mind
A linguistic experiment
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    Unintended, uncontrolled, undefined
    Project: Start your own revolution
    What if the revolution doesn't need a name? Or leaders? Or a formal agenda?

    The most wonderful thought could be this: shit happens. Perhaps this is a uniquely Australian idiom, perhaps not - and I don't wish to offend with profanity, we Australians swear a lot, and this phrase has even been used by a Parliamentarian in a memorable impromptu television interview.

    What this useful quip boils down to is that whether we want it to or not, something will ultimately happen, and it will probably not be what we expect. The phrase can also be used to provide a conclusive and strangely satisfying explanation for the inexplicable, or the unexpected. The utility of the phrase is that it does not assume a causal basis for the event or events so described. In fact 'shit happens' laconically implies that any reason or cause you might put forward for an event is probably, on balance, not going to be accurate or true, so why bother trying? Let's go surfing or have a beer instead.

    Hmmmm. Perhaps. What is certain is that if change is truly revolutionary you can bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow's post-revolutionary winners and losers will be different to today's pre-revolutionary winners and losers. Radically different. Generally when the post-revolutionary world is imagined we tend to shuffle the haves and have-nots into different relationships. What we should really do is imagine that having and not-having will mean different things, and the rules will completely change.

    Right now I am sitting here in front of my plasma television typing this on my 13" Macbook. I am connected to the world through a wireless internet connection funnelling data to and fro at broadband speeds. I will be eating a $45/kilogram steak for dinner, with a salad dressed by aged balsamic vinegar from Modena, and garnished with slices of Gran Padano parmesan, also flown here to the southern hemisphere from Italy. I have access to all of these luxuries on the basis of a comfortable income, and no independent wealth. In fact my net worth is nothing special, and characterised by as much debt and assets - good and bad - as many Australians.

    You want a revolution? So do I. Political, technological, social, intellectual, emotional - anything might do. But we have to face the facts: on the other side of the revolutionary wave, I might not be a winner, for I am surely one right now. If you are reading this on your own computer, chances are you too are as wealthy, in historical terms, as I am. And make no mistake, we are both exceedingly wealthy individuals by such a comparison.

    When the revolutionary wave spills it might take our technology, our skill with silicon and steel and plastic, our fossil fuels and our waste with it. It might take our children or our pets, our jobs or our homes. It might take our language, our skills or our love. It might take our lives.

    At any rate, it is 100% guaranteed that the internet, where you are reading this, won't last forever. In fact if revolutionary change is truly profound, our future might not have digital data at all. On the contrary, it might be a place where ploughshares are beaten into spears, compounds are fortified and animals skinned by you and me for warmth and food.

    Do we really expect this kind of change to require, or respond to, an agenda? Perhaps what we need are leaders who keep on doing exactly what they are doing right now. When it comes to unsustainability and the coming crisis, it seems implausible to think that widespread behavioural change will occur before critical infrastructure failures. Food and water supplies are becoming increasingly scarce, and the stage appears set for people to die in great numbers. Perhaps that will happen whatever we do from this point.

    But despite all that, we must still make choices, and I choose to be ready to ride the wave when it breaks. What that means in practice, I have no idea. I also choose to enjoy donuts, my dog and cat, and the Simpsons. I choose to love my friends and family, and I choose to be fascinated by the potential of the digital and natural world. I like cars, I vote, I like books and yet parties make me nervous. Being the host of a party makes me even more nervous.

    Will these things I value survive throughout my lifetime? i don't know. What do I know?

    Shit happens.

    Might as well enjoy it, do good, be useful and be happy while we still can.

    Mon, Sep 28, 2009  Permanent link

    Sent to project: Start your own revolution
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         Tue, Sep 29, 2009  Permanent link
    How dare you use such vulgar language!

    But, looking at the etymology of the two words shit and vulgar, we see something related to your post...

    Vulgar: From Latin, meaning "Of the common people". The common people, seen as filthy and disgusting, a clearly fallacious view which I think is filthy and disgusting in itself.

    Shit: From really olde english, not profane before the Norman conquest of 1066, which was a revolution of sorts. Wasn't a swearword before William the Conqueror came along and started pulling some straight fucked up shit - If someone came along in this day and age invading a country and demanding they forget their language, they'd be considered racist war criminals.

    I think anyone getting their panties up in a bunch about profanity suck so much. Those people don't actually seem to think, never actually do stuff like look up the things above that I took the time to research - they just seem to process "smart" from "stupid" by what other seemingly prominent thinkers thought "for" them, based on whether or not they seemed smart, based on what kind of "language" they used... The kind of asshole who stopped reading as soon as they read the second paragraph of this post you made! These are the people holding the seriously broken hegemony up which is now quickly killing us all, the one that needs a revolution for the sake of humanity itself, the ones still upholding those sickening hegemonic values imposed 1000 years ago and then some.
    First Dark     Wed, Oct 7, 2009  Permanent link
    This is indeed something we should all ponder... perhaps the wave of revolution everyone has been waiting for will be much too great in scope for any of us to survive.

    Adding to dmitri's tangent:

    Steven Pinker - The Language of Swearing (Part 1 | Part 2)
    From The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window Into Human Nature