Saturday, June 05, 2010

531. The University Tower of Babel for Human-Environmental Relationships ::: How I'm Accidentally Involved in Eco-Linguistics (Phenomenology?)

Yesterday, I ended up having a psychologically-relieving conversation with Dr. Melack (ecology-evolution member of my Ph.D. committee). I vented to him about all these problems I was encountering with cross-disciplinary literature reviews (largely a giant game of academic scape-goating, or as they call usually finger-pointing and false accusations of who thinks what and does what). Dr. Melack pressed the pause button and asked me if I had ever read mathematics or biochemistry journals (which are full of symbols and code and shorthand, much worse than Chinese or Greek, I'd say). I said ya, but I'm actually reading ENGLISH, and people are using different words for different meanings to their own advantages in their own playing fields. (Oran agreeds, the word "institutions" is abused outside of his field. Dr. Freudenberg mentioned how "longevity studies" have different meanings in medical, geological, and sociological fields. My immediate concerns were words such as "intersubjectivity" and "social constructivist ecocriticism" and a few dozen after that.) A few months back I even emailed Dr. Melack my Blog 404, which is becoming an elaborate collection of words that embody "human-environment relationships" all from different departments, which contain an arbitrary package of historically accumulated baggage of assumptions collected by the members of that specified discipline that coined that specified word. And when I attended the Origins conference, I even noticed how different disciplines were borrowing different terms, transfers from social to natural sciences, natural sciences to social (even for me, I'm applying "collective action" as a word that should be used in the natural sciences, instead of all that bullshxt Gaia superorganismic everything-is-a-life-force-bullshxt thinking). I guess, as Dr. Mike McGinnis (now in New Zealand) might tease me I'm accidentally becoming some kind of phenomenologist or eco-linguist type... but in all honesty, I'm more driven by the images that words produce. Words have largely been a pile of clutter getting in my way to creative visualization.

And then, Dr. Melack reminded me of a fable (Biblical of all things, but very secularly useful) that I encountered and grasped a while ago (but frighteningly forgot)... the fable being the Tower of Babel (in short, how God made this city and this tower of Babel, and then for some reason God got angry and made all these sections of the city speak different languages, and then everyone started to fight and the Tower of Babel collapsed). Right now, we're experiencing this whole Tower of Babel effect in the University with human-environment relationships, and that though we're all speaking these different languages (though we are talking about the same underlying things), that I shouldn't be all consumed with this problem of the Semantic Jungle, I should escape the Jargon Jungle (both Oran and John wanted to spare my sanity :-). The solution was to make a sketch list of questions for guiding the readings, and to take the exam earlier, so I will no longer be consumed with the writtens.

Maybe it's my state of mind right now, but what Dr. Melack said--with the whole Tower of Babel story--really soaked deep into my mind (as a framing device), and now I will be placing this Tower of Babel metaphor into my suite of images for my meditation on human-environment relations at Isla Vista's Sands Beach. And then I also started to notice more recently how many scientific and scholarly papers refer to past fables and stories to derive metaphors, with some being Biblical or religious, but applied in a more secular way (Tower of Babel, Serenity Prayer, Genesis), Greek Mythology (ocean as Neptune, Icarus and Daedalus), and Shakespeare (Peter Alagona's Conservation Biology paper on Credibility). It's a riot act... how there are these little trickles of English literature that serve as metaphorical staples for the sciences (ha!).

But in short, I'm touched I'm able to leave a professor's office feeling inspired... and not stressed. It's a foreign concept to me, and I'm enjoying it.

That evening, I talked with my Bubsy over the phone, and I was on such a good role, I have a script for a flipping awesome Biologically Incorrect Cartoon. I think this one will most certainly be collage-like and a part of the "Envirochondriac" series. I will have to cut this down, but it's a start....

Terra (engages in a lengthy meditational trance with Buz):

The question is whether an "environmental problem" is actually real "problem." After all, a problem is only a problem, if you perceive or define it to be a problem

But to me, an environmental problem IS a problem.
A REAL problem!
And not only that, an environmental problem

is not JUST an environmental problem!

Just a definitional problem,
or assumptional problem,

It's a layered problem.
It's a simultaneous peeling-an-inner-and-outer-onion-problem.

It's an internal problem.
It's a language problem (linguistics, phenomenological, literacy).

It's an empirical problem (math model).
It's a Jargon-Jungle-Tower-of-Babel problem.
It's a perception problem (conceptual).
It's a scale problem.
It's a space problem.
It's a time problem.
It's a framing problem.
It's a point of view (POV) problem.
It's a visual problem (representational).
It's a metaphorical problem.
It's a boundary problem.
It's a mapping problem.
It's a mental mapping problem.
It's a theoretical problem.
It's a metaphysical problem (amorphous, abstract, intangible).
It's a practical problem (tangible).

It's a baseline problem.
It's a shifting baseline problem.
It's a-story-is-a-product-of-your-original-premises problem.

It's a survival problem.
It's a value problem.
It's a needs and wants problem.
It's a problem of purpose.
It's a motivational problem.
It's a visceral problem.
It's a physical problem (resource).

It's an emotional problem.
It's a spiritual problem.

It's a mental problem.
It's a psychological problem.
It's a rational problem.
It's a cognitive problem.

It's a fading memory problem (individual experiential, story, and collective).
It's a conceptual problem.

It's an organizational problem (epistemological).
It's a what-is-and-what-ought-to-be-ethical problem.
It's a deconstructivist's problem.
And a re-constructivist's problem.
It's a solipist's problem.

It's a social constructivist ecocritic's problem.
It's a separatist's problem (disconnect, denial).
It's a detachment problem.

It's an inclusivist's problem (connect, accept).
It's a care-connect-attachment problem.
It's a problem of denial.
It's a problem of acceptance.
It's a problem of cognitive dissonance.
It's a filtering problem.
It's a problem of idee fixe.
It's a "question-driven" problem.

It's a "hypothesis-framed" problem.
It's a belief-system problem.
It's a problem of the hedgehog.
It's a problem of the fox.
It's a behavioral problem.

It's a collecting problem (methods).
It's a pigeonholing problem (classification).
It's a paradoxical problem (oxymoron).
It's an identity problem (individual and collective).

It's a problem of self.
It's a problem of health.
It's a problem of wealth.
It's an image problem.
It's a story problem.
It's an experiential problem.
It's a degree-of-ownership problem.
It's a peacock's problem.
It's a bowerbird's problem.
It's a problem of consciousness.
It's a problem of contextual consciousness.
It's a selfishly selfless problem.
It's a thoughtfully hedonistic problem.

It's a futuristically-present-based-on-the-deep-past problem.
It's an adaptively manipulating problem.
It's an ego problem. Not just an ego problem.
An ego-anthro-eco problem.

It's a layered problem.
It's a relativistic problem.
It's an outer problem (external).
It's a biological reproduction problem (fitness).

It's an exponential-replication-in-finite-space-and-materials problem.
It's a familial problem.
It's a community problem.

It's a social problem.
It's an institutional problem.
It's a problem of rights, rules, and decision-making procedures.

It's a competition problem.
It's a collaboration problem.
It's an equality (inequality) problem.
It's a technological problem.
It's an infrastructural problem.
It's a resource problem.
It's a biological problem (ecological, evolutionary).
It's a geological problem (abiotic).
It's a problem for jellyfish, plants,

sharks, coyotes, and us humans!
It's a problem of air, water, food and shelter.
It's a problem of the stakeholder circus.
It's a government problem.
It's a corporate problem.
It's a media problem.
It's an information overload problem.
It's an educational problem.
It's a problem of the university's construct of the universe.
It's an ontogeny-recapitulates-phylogeny problem.
It's a human-leaf-cutter-ant-colony problem.
It's a division-of-labor problem.
It's an acquired problem.
It's an inheritance problem.
It's a cross-generational inheritance problem.
It's a Darwinian problem.
It's a Lamarckian problem.
It's a knowledge and action problem.
It's an imagination problem.
It's a creative freedom problem.

It's a science problem (normative).
It's a policy problem.
It's a grassroots problem.
It's a financial problem (economic).
It's an objective problem.
It's an observer's problem.
It's a reflexive (self-referential, open, transparent) problem.
It's an intersubjective problem.
It's a participant's problem.
It's a humanistic problem.
It's a religious problem.
It's an historial problem.
It's an artistic problem.
It's a learning-from-past-mistakes problem.
It's an unable-to-predict-the-future problem.
It's an Extreme Makeover problem.

It's a local problem.
It's a regional problem.
It's a national, continental, global problem.
It's a distant problem (in space and time).

It's a problem since the origins of life,
and us Homo sapiens,
especially the last 10,000 years!

It's an ideological problem.
It's a problem of dichotomies.

It's a problem of gradients.
It's a cumulative problem.
It's a system's problem.
It's a collective action problem.

It's a summation-of-triumphs-leads-to-a-tragedy problem.
It's a contingency problem.
It's an uncertain problem.
It's a probablistic problem.
It's a nonlinear problem (linear).
It's a problem of one- and two-way streets.
It's an interactional problem.
It's a feedback problem.

It's a positive, negative, neutral problem.

It's a problem of patterns (cycles).
It's a problem of rituals.
It's a problem of conventions.
It's an addiction problem (habit-forming-and-breaking).
It's an inertial problem (resistance to change).
It's a static, constipating problem.
It's a dynamic, fickle problem.
It's a tipping point problem (threshold).
It's a gradual, slipping problem.
It's a drastic, disastrology problem.

It's a problem of making, breaking, and re-making.
It's an autonomous problem.

It's an obligate problem.
It's a direct and indirect problem.
It's a diffuse problem (vague, ambiguous).
It's a discrete problem.
It's a problem of options.

It's a problem of constraints.

It's a utopian, Arcadian (pastoral) problem.
It's a Baconian domination problem.
It's a Thoreau-Emersonian transcendentalist problem.
It's a superiority complex problem.
It's a dominance hierarchy problem.
It's a problem of unexpected surprise.
It's a problem of adaptation.
It's a problem of programmatic response.
It's a problem of manipulation.
It's a problem of engineering.
It's a problem of planning and organization.
It's a problem of design.
It's a problem of adaptive manipulation.
Errr, politically correctedly, adaptive management.

It's a problem of flow.
It's a materials problem.
It's an energy problem.
It's an input problem.
It's an output problem.
It's a processing problem.
It's a consumption problem.
It's a production problem.
It's a metabolic problem.

It's a mass balance problem.
It's a "sustainability" problem.
It's a rate (pace of process, change) problem.
It's an efficiency ("artful efficiency") problem.

It's a problem of recyclicity.
It's a problem of biogeodegradability.

It's a nested scale problem.
It's a jigsaw puzzle problem.
It's an over-specialist's problem (of overspecialization, ostriche-head-in-sand).
It's a fragmentation problem.
It's a precision problem.

It's a navel-gazing problem.
It's a generalist's (jack-of-all-trades) problem.
It's a big picture problem.
It's a synthetic problem.
It's an interdisciplinary problem.

It's a problem of the blind men feeling parts of an elephant.
It's a case study problem (earth, N = 1).
It's a non-replicable problem.
It's a problem of ratchets.
It's a problem of change (evolving).
It's an inner-and-outer self problem.

It's an inner-and-outer-self-in-dialogue problem.
It's an inner-and-outer-landscape problem.
It's an-inner-and-outer-landscape-in-chronic-dialogue problem.
It's a people-and-place problem.
It's a self-people-AND-place problem,
inseparable puzzle pieces...
It's a problem of a game of CHESS.

It's... it's... it's... just
a problem with reality!

The environmental problem
is an environmental problem
It's ALL of it...
with all layers of our
internal and external environment
individually and collectively
interacting with all other layers
all at once... AT ALL TIMES!!!

Buz blinks while Terra snaps out of meditation.
Terra (riled up, with her hands raised):

And that's what I've been trying to tell you... all this time!
You can't just zoom in and stare at one dot!
It's the construction of your entire inner and outer universe!
It's everything, EVERYTHING!!!

Buz puts his hand on Terra's shoulder:
Terra? Uh, your trance was sooo far out... that

I think your environ-mental problem is becoming a real mental problem....

(I think I'm going to have to re-arrange the poem to a more intuitive layout in space and time, but not now, this is a just a starting point) (This monologue also reminds me of this poem Pure Being to Self-Aware Being)


Victoria "Stokastika" said...

more words, bureaucratic carrots problem, individual and collective amnesia problem... problem of not knowing, lacunacea...

Victoria "Stokastika" said...

more words, single-species-based piecemeal research-and-management problem, single habitat problem, lock out single species single habitat single trophic level

Victoria "Stokastika" said...

more words, it's not just a single species, single sector, single profession problem...

Victoria "Stokastika" said...

humanities issue... it's a race problem, it's an ethnic problem, it's a class problem, it's a gender / sexuality problem, it's a male problem, it's a female problem, "feminist" problem, it's a belief problem, it's a religious problem, it's a "culture" problem

Victoria "Stokastika" said...

Revisiting all those gnarly philosophical words... it's an ontological problem, it's an epistemological problem, it's a phenomenological problem, it's an proximate problem, it's an ultimate problem, it's a ontogenetic problem, it's a phylogenetic problem... etcetera... it's a shifting baselines problem, it's an extreme event problem...

Victoria "Stokastika" said...

it's a human separate from the system problem, it's a separatist's problem, as the Ecolinguists call it's a problem of "the other"

Victoria "Stokastika" said...

shape-size-function problem, shapeshifting, sizeshifting, function-process-shifting problem

Victoria "Stokastika" said...

it's an abstract problem... an "ideological problem"...