Temp Expert, Wk 3: Readings
Here we go.
I take these readings as a good sign that I’ve switched into this class. 1. I love reading 2. I love interdisciplinary exploits 3. String theory and multiple realities is hella cool
But in all seriousness.
Maybe it’s my background as an anthropologist and someone with a particular interest in critical and radical theories, but the idea of an ultimate, one-size-fits-all theory just doesn’t ring true to me (we can argue about what truth even means later). As no one person can simply have one identity to fit all contexts, why should we expect our universe to possess that quality? That’s why the M-Theory makes a ton of sense to me. We all know at this point that anything reacts differently under observation, so the fact that we can catch glimpses of certain aspects of our universe is pretty amazing. Generally, I find the tension between subjective/objective interesting and even how our experience of that has shifted over time (particularly rapidly in the 20th cent). A couple other things from the article jumped out – that we can consider M-theory as a “network of theories” (I like networks), discrete yet interconnected and making up a whole but also boundless. Also, the quote that “diversity is acceptable” since it leads back to my topic of biodiversity and asserts again that a plurality of voices/experiences/theories are what is needed to solve problems.
The Whitman reading, frankly, I didn’t care much for beyond it being a case study of interconnections between art an science. I think the author’s voice was a bit to authoritative on ideas of “what is science” vs “what is art” and what each of those stands for in our society. But maybe he speaks from a more traditional, normal standpoint and as someone who has spent time deeply considering the roles of these disciplines in society I just am used to more nuanced discussions (à la the critical design school, from what I can tell). I guess the take away was again this notion that there is no absolute truth, that as the author says in the prelude, “Neither truth alone is our solution, for our reality exists in plural.” I unfortunately just thought the final sentence, “The mind is made whole” a bit too neat and somewhat reductive. Why does a mind need to be whole? Why can’t it exist as a jumble of fragmented, networked and possibly contradictory parts?
Within the bit about Whitman himself, it was pretty incredible to read this narrative about art and science informing each other (not to mention how everyone seemed to know each other back in the 19th cent). “The Body Electric” is such a beautiful phrase and captures both the personal experience of emotion as well as a scientific fact. Truthfully, I never thought much about how the body could experience emotion before the brain does. As a woman, I couldn’t help but think about hormones, PMS and associated mood swings. At certain times in the month I experience emotions that have no basis in my daily experiences, so I chalk them up to whatever estrogen-related fluctuations are happening at the time and move on. But it is very frustrating to feel so strongly (especially when it involves other people or could affect them) and know that it’s not coming from my brain (where I feel like I have control) but my body.
Lastly, I really enjoyed the “Slow Ideas” piece, mainly because it illustrates how issues of power come to play in finding solutions and thus why its important to have many voices involved when designing and implementing such solutions to make sure stakeholder needs are met. When I finished the first section and the author was like, why didn’t antisepsis catch on as quickly? I knew why. It was a question of who did it benefit. The doctors were the ones making the decision about implementation and to them, antisepsis practices involved more care and effort on their part where as anesthesia made their lives easier. Well, the author goes on to explain that’s exactly the case.
So it makes sense that the question is not how do we work within existing cultural ideas (because in our capitalist society, these are often predicated on simply looking after oneself and doing what is profitable), but how do we change norms? And specifically what they’re looking at in terms of the birth center, how do we make people more empathetic, even if it isn’t a “scalable” (ie profitable) solution? Focusing on the long-term rather than the short-term.
And isn’t that a good metaphor for climate change? Sure, the changes that are necessary are hard to implement because of economic and lifestyle changes but the effects in the long-run are what’s important.