Hardcore for Nerds

"Why sneer at the intellectuals?"*
punk music, left politics, and cultural history - previously found here.
contact: gabbaweeks[at]gmail.com (sorry, no promos/submissions, thanks) or ask
Dublin/Galway, Ireland. 26, history graduate & human rights student
HFN | Best New Punk | HFN 2012 2011 2010 2009 | HRO 2k9 | Hoover Genealogy Project | @HC4N
*from the title of a review of Arthur Koestler's Arrival and Departure by Michael Foot, Evening Standard, Nov. 26, 1943.
Nov 25

Personal Zen

"Besides contrasting Western Being with Eastern Nothingness, in his later writings Nishida also at times makes a broad distinction between a Western “logic of things” and an Eastern “logic of the heart-mind (kokoro).” While Western thought tends to begin with an objective logic of substances (be these physical or mental), he claims that in Buddhism one can find the germ of a logic of the heart-mind, even if traditionally this remained largely at the level of an expression of personal experience rather than being fully developed into a genuinely philosophical logic (see Nishida 1964, 356). (Scholars of Buddhism may want to argue that it was Nishida’s own knowledge of Buddhism that remained too much at the level of personal experience, rather than the sophisticated teachings of the Mâdhyamaka, Yogâchâra, Tiantai, and Huayan traditions of Mahâyâna philosophy.)”

The Kyoto School (Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy)

Again, following on from this post, the above is an obviously simplified statement of a view I don’t wholly agree or disagree with. Zen Skin, Zen Marrow starts off with a discussion of Arthur Koestler’s The Lotus and the Robot, a fascinating and kind of terrible book in which a European intellectual (and a “controversial, side-changing” one at that) goes to India and Japan in the 1950s and makes some pretty strong criticisms based on his experience and reading. This description in Zen Skin, Zen Marrow is a good summary of the conflicting aspects:

"The sense of disillusionment and disgust in Koestler’s book, his only major work dealing with Zen, seems like a throwback to unrepentant Orientalists whose agenda it was to turn Asian religious thought into disreputable clichés. But at the same time, to his credit, Koestler presciently anticipated and articulated nearly all of the main rebuttals to TZN [the Traditional Zen Narrative, acronym used by the author] provided by HCC [Historical and Cultural Criticism] on the issues of language, ritualism and societal affairs"

I went back and read a couple of the chapters on Zen in The Lotus and the Robot and while the tone is not particularly pleasant, and the criticisms while robust also seem to contain something of a wilful blindness when seen from an appreciation of non-dualist philosophy (and as can be seen from the title of that book and others, Koestler loved using binary opposites) it’s not wholly unfair at base and depends really on negotiating between social and cultural values towards appreciating Zen in a lucid context. So yes, Zen can degenerate into irrational silliness that’s not particularly socially useful or even harmful, but (as he recognises with the symbiotic nature of its origin to Confucianism) those same qualities may have or have had their uses.

My personal attraction to Zen stems, I’m pretty sure, from a dissatisfaction with the incompleteness of intellectual pursuit in a (Western) framework of science and philosophy, and even the humanities and arts as a bridge between the two. There is no system which will answer all our questions, and perhaps similarly to the way one is - supposedly, traditionally - led to question capitalist economics, maybe that is because the whole nature of our ‘systems’ is flawed? Critical thinking, despite the exhortations of our educators and business leaders who tout its material ends, manifestly does not bring happiness and rather tends to decrease it whenever we face a failure to rationally reorganise our lives and the world. Art can be a solution for some, hedonism for others, but what for the intellectual depressive and innate conservative who just wants to break the chain of thought without breaking anything else?

All of which is to say, in a rather incomplete fashion, that when I see such a statement as “in Buddhism one can find the germ of a logic of the heart-mind, even if traditionally this remained largely at the level of an expression of personal experience rather than being fully developed into a genuinely philosophical logic” I am both sceptical of and drawn towards it. I’m sceptical of a notion such as ‘heart-mind’, to start with, because I’m still too rationalist; yet at the same time I don’t want to see the ideas of Zen “fully developed into a genuinely philosophical logic” - in large part I reckon because my personality, which to use the Myers-Brigg typology (itself an unscientific, effectively anti-rationalist but deeply appealing ‘system’ that I find pragmatically useful) begins with the introverted intuition of ideas, proceeds to an outward facing rationality, followed only then by (introverted) feelings and (extrovert) sensory logic - because I need to keep it outside that sphere, free from its chains.

zen philosophy psychology MBTI INTJ useless words
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Jun 18

INFP Confession #1288



I’m really selfish. I’ve got a friend who wants to start reading an author who means more to me than almost anything, and I can’t bear for her to do this. I feel dreadful for it, because who am I to stop her from reading things? Yet I can’t help but feel possessive, like she won’t understand. She reads a lot of my favourite books, I feel a tiny bit like this every time, but this author is something different and I don’t know what to do. I can’t tell her, it would be so cruel.

JFC. Bloody self obsessed introverts. 

As an INTJ, I’ll definitely push the books on you* - assuming I know you well enough to actually talk to you - but I probably won’t have all that much invested in whether you really like them or not. I will be disappointed, however, in your inevitable inability to fully validate my intellectual interests (just kidding, any validation is good!)

*this extends to the MBTI system itself, too

mbti books
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Sep 13
Permalink politics us romney economics religion mbti
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May 01

Your Google Searches Based On Your Myers Briggs Type




nothing, I know everything already 

how do you think I know everything if I hadn’t Googled it in the first place? (I mean, apart from the encyclopaedia I got for my 5th birthday and other pre-internet things)



memorable Fall activities

does not compute. though if you mean autumn (this is a common American mistake) I do enjoy its sombre tones and general liminal aesthetics, but it’s not like I want to engage in an ‘activity’ based on that, let alone have it classed as ‘memorable’

help, I’m feeling this ‘bizarre’ human feeling = ‘love’ and can’t figure out how to out-rationalize it

yeah, I suppose so. but some things are beyond Google.

Schroedinger’s Cat and other joyless brilliant people things

now you’re talking! I also would have accepted Schrodinger or Schrödinger, but umlauts are tricky (and fascinating) things.

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