Saturday, January 17, 2009

Means and ends

Finnish has verbs that are marked for telicity. That's what I know today that I didn't know yesterday.

To understand telicity, contrast:
I shot a bear
and
I shot at a bear.

Hitting the bear is telic. The word "telic" means "with a purpose" or "with an end (in mind)", but my understanding is that telicity distinguishes outcomes, not purposes. So it doesn't distinguish shooting at the bear accidentally and on purpose, but hitting it or just shooting in its general direction.

More generally, of course you could describe the intelligent design worldview (or any worldview that contains the belief that God made the universe for a specific end) as telic.

The classically trained among us, and those who speak Greek, will recognise telos as the word for "end" in Greek.

***

I watched a Dogishead video yesterday in which he suggested that pokerists have "poker schemas". I tried to figure out what my schema is. It seems to be "wait for good cards and bet the shit out of them, then shove whenever you think you can get away with it or have a great hand".

I am obv. lacking deep understanding. I don't know how to acquire it. The only people I have to talk poker to are either completely uninterested (and think losing is funny (wrong--I hate losing and if you mock my hating it, you are likely to be invited to go fuck yourself) or whine about how boring talking about the only thing I'm interested in) or don't know any better than I do. It's intensely frustrating that people win at the levels I want to win at but have a theoretical understanding that's inferior to mine by far.

So I have to do it on my own, and probably should do something systematic and achievable. This means forgetting what I "know" and learning from scratch. I think I should do that because I seem to have a very cluttered mental space.

Or maybe I should focus on improving on what I'm already good at, and worry less about what I am failing at. Is this just a way of lowering the target so that you can aim lower though?

Most of my study has not been very directed though. I've just picked up bits and pieces. Being systematic would probably be better but I'm not sure how to create that system. Others who have achieved what I want to can't help, because they took different paths and weren't on the whole systematic either.

I also don't play enough. Experience is how you find out what works, of course.

***

Reading about "luxury" brands is depressing. Some guy designs horrible clothes for airheaded women who think they look good in horrible clothes, and he's successful. So he makes perfume.

But why would a guy who is "good" at making clothes be good at making perfume? Well, he isn't, of course. He is supposed to be good at picking people to make perfume for him. You are supposed to be buying his taste.

Meh. It should not be surprising, of course, that there are whole industries based on the (fully justified) belief that people are complete fucking idiots, but you can't help feeling a little sad about it.

I remember being in the Country Road section in Myer and looking at some of the clothes. Country Road is an "upmarket" clothes line for the masses, which means it's not mega expensive but it costs more than the store's own brand or whatever. But when you check the label, you see that the clothes are Made in China/Made in India, and it strikes you that they are made in the same factories as the store's own brand.

A cousin of my wife's used to work in a factory that canned pineapple. The line bifurcated after the pineapple had been canned, so that the cans could carry different labels. Pretty standard, of course, but the labels were Black & Gold (a budget brand) and Golden Circle (a more upmarket brand). Golden Circle would cost, what, 50% more for a can.

That's capitalism. Greedy shits preying on fucking idiots from top to bottom while somewhere in Africa a child is dying because he can't get enough rice to eat.

And I was thinking, this is how the world is: it's made when you get there. Thousands of years of people born into misery because it's already set up so that you're fucked.

We could do better. But here's what's odd. If I believe that of all the rest of you, why don't I believe it of myself? Maybe it's simply that I don't know what better would look like, and being somewhat telic myself, if I can't see it, I can't get there.

2 Comments:

At 5:50 pm, Blogger P. said...

Channel 4's Dispatches programme (i think) concentrated one episode on how clothes sold in Primark (or ASDA or somewhere 'budget') and Next were produced in the same developing country's sweatshop by the same machinists.

Sadly i can't afford to buy my kid's clothes ethically but i strongly resent not having an ethical option that's in my budget.

 
At 8:41 pm, Blogger nobody said...

"Finnish has verbs that are marked for telicity. That's what I know today that I didn't know yesterday."

Yesterday I had no idea that I knew anything about telicity and in fact I'd never heard the word before.

"my understanding is that telicity distinguishes outcomes, not purposes. So it doesn't distinguish shooting at the bear accidentally and on purpose, but hitting it or just shooting in its general direction."

Telicity is one of the things I've been going on about without knowing its name. It has to do with intents and outcomes.

Or maybe I'm simply full of shit. Which of course is fully within all the laws I know of.

"So I have to do it on my own, and probably should do something systematic and achievable. This means forgetting what I "know" and learning from scratch. I think I should do that because I seem to have a very cluttered mental space."

You've barely inched away from the concept of the telic.

"Experience is how you find out what works, of course."

I absolutely agree, but mind what you "know" doesn't keep you in a state of confusion.

"We could do better. But here's what's odd. If I believe that of all the rest of you, why don't I believe it of myself? Maybe it's simply that I don't know what better would look like, and being somewhat telic myself, if I can't see it, I can't get there."

At times like reading that bit, I'm quite frustrated that I can't open up your head and pour in a few pineapple tidbits, it's the fewest of clues you seem to lack but you "know" them to be the cheaper brand.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home