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Disobedient stuff
 

Disobedient stuff

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Discussion Seminar for Sociology Class

Discussion Seminar for Sociology Class
featuring Matthew Crawford and Wendell Berry

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  • Also see page 137. regarding capitalism.
  • What are some ways you have experienced objects resisting your will? Recipes, originals discovered to be knock-offs, etc
  • I mean lets do some knowledge work on this topic…hehe!

Disobedient stuff Disobedient stuff Presentation Transcript

  • Some day…
    Lustre?
  • I used to own…
    Lustre?
  • How do objects resist our will? What is the connection between stubborn objects, subjectivity and virtue? What might objects be telling us about the nature of the ‘education’ we are receiving?
    Disobedient Stuff
  • Chapters 4, 5, 6
    “Absurdity is good for comedy, but bad as a way of life.”
    Matthew B. Crawford
  • “In calling attention to the dangers of one kind of addiction, the tobacco controversy distracts from the much greater danger that we are an addictive society – that our people are rushing from one expensive and dangerous fix to another, from drugs to war to useless merchandise to carious commercial thrills, and that our corporate pushers are addicted to our addictions.” (p.58)
    Wendell Berry
  • Never say no to the panda…
    • Healthy
    • Preservatives
    • Cost
    • Local
    • Fresh
    • Quality
    • Calories, Fat, Sugar, etc.
    Walking down the aisle of your favourite grocery store, what are some of the criteria that you use in choosing your food?
    Choosing food…
  • A more pedestrian way to ask this question:
    • What is it that makes some food better to eat than other food?
    Mom’s home cooking vs. Restaurant food
    Criteria: Who makes it?
    Fine wine vs. home brew kits
    Criteria: How it is made? Expertise?
    Snails vs. Escargot
    Criteria: What it is called?
    Standing at the kitchen counter vs. Candle-lit, beach-side, cabana
    Criteria: Where it is eaten? OR…
    “We have an idea of the thing that, in a sense, pre-constitutes the thing for us, prior to sensual experience” (p.91)
    Think about: The mindful worker…
    Are some foods more real than others?
  • “So to be a good mechanic you have to be constantly attentive to the possibility that you may be wrong.” (p.99)
    Iris Murdoch on responding to the world justly, “…perceive it clearly, and this requires a kind of “un-selfing”. [A]nything which alters consciousness in the direction of unselfishness, objectivity, and realism is to be connected with virtue. [V]irtue is the attempt to pierce the veil of selfish consciousness and join the world as it really is.” (p.100)
    Agree?
    Attentiveness, un-selfing, & virtue
  • “What impresses me about it, however, is the insistent practicality implicit in it. If we are up against mystery, then we dare act only on the most modest assumptions. The modern
    Mystery vs. Randomness
    scientific program has held that me must act on the basis of knowledge, which…we have assumed to be ample. But if we are up against mystery, then knowledge is relatively small.
    …Acting (under this assumption) requires one to remember…for instance, that failure is possible, that error is possible, that second chances are desirable…” - -Berry (in ‘Letter to Wes Jackson’ in Home Economics)
  • “But a more public-spirited calculus would include a humane regard for the kind of labour involved in each alternative…If the regard that many people now have for the wider ramifications of their food choices could be brought to our relationships to our own automobiles, it would help sustain pockets of mindful labour.” (p.102)
    In this passage Crawford seems to take up a somewhat Marxist critique of “the ever bolder raid of capital into the psychic territory of labour” (perhaps his way of saying increasingly alienated labour). Is Crawford’s idea actually as public-spirited as he claims? Is it more virtuous to be a mindful worker? Is a mindful worker actually more in touch with the real world? Is Crawford actually only arguing for ‘kinder-gentler’ version of capitalism? Is this kind of capitalism any better than any other of its incarnations?
    Attentiveness, un-selfing, & virtue
    Also See: The Pleasures of Eatingby Wendell Berry
  • Crawford seems to suggest that a mindful worker is one who
    is willing to engage (almost to allow) objects that resist the
    will of the worker. i.e. working on his perpetually lifeless VW.
    “The feeling of being subject to fate chastens the conceit of mastery. This might make a person humble, but in my own case the humility had an edge to it. As I groped my way toward a modus vivendi with the Bug, I took my new fatalism to be a stinging rebuke to the pretence of the easy intellectual mastery that my father was offering. So my own sense of impotence was weirdly delicious; it was based on a truer self-awareness than my father possessed, as I saw it.” (p.80)
    What are some ways you have experienced objects resisting your will? How do disobedient (resistant) objects affect subjectivity? Does disengagement with obstinate objects reduce the subject somehow? Is ‘un-selfing’ actually possible? Does this attentiveness enhance or reduce the subject?
    Attentiveness, un-selfing, & virtue
  • “In calling attention to the dangers of one kind of addiction, the tobacco controversy distracts from the much greater danger that we are an addictive society – that our people are rushing from one expensive and dangerous fix to another, from drugs to war to useless merchandise to carious commercial thrills, and that our corporate pushers are addicted to our addictions.” (p.58)
    Wendell Berry
  • Sunrise Berry Farms Saskatoon Pie
    Farmers Market Blueberry Pie
    The Disobedient Pie
  • Anecdotes:
    • Muffler Replacement at Canadian Tire
    =brakes, alignment and CV boots
    • Joy-Ride leads to free Pecan Pie.
    The ‘motherf*cker’ process
    A mechanic might not be a mechanic unless he/she has uttered the appropriate number of swear words
  • In a world where a mindful engagement with the material world appears to be quickly slipping away…
    What does fixing something actually mean?
    In a world where objects resist until the appropriate number of ‘motherf*ckers’ are verbalized…
    Should we care that mechanics might take more time on our vehicle than they said they would and ‘fix’ things they never really intended to fix? Is there some expectation on our part that an expert is going to be able to be the overcomer against the resistance of the object? (i.e. Think of the story of the forgery Art Collector that Bill related to us two weeks ago) Is there something natural about human inclinations to avoid dealing with the resistance of objects? If so what could be going on behind these inclinations? If not, how can we account for technological developments that seem to be designed to avoid or reduce the resistance of objects?
    The ‘motherf*cker’ process
  • I’ll show you mine if you show me yours!
    “We have to wonder, then, whether degraded work entails not just dumbing down but also a certain unintended moral re-education…We have all had the experience of dealing with a service provider who seems to have been reduced to a script-reading automaton. We have also heard the complaints of employers about not being able to find conscientious workers…There seems to be a vicious circle in which degraded work plays a pedagogical role, forming workers into material that is ill suited for anything but the over-determined world of careless labour.” (p.101)
  • “…the M.A. degree serves only to obscure a more real stupidification of the work I secured with that credential, and a wage to match. What the hell is going on? Is this our society as a whole, buying more education only to scale new heights of stupidity?
    If much corporate knowledge work is after all not terribly demanding on the brain, or even requires the active suppression of intelligence, then we would expect academic accomplishments to be a poor basis on which to make hiring decisions.” (p. 144)
    Discuss…(get it)
    I’ll show you mine if you show me yours!
  • The End