Comments on “Subcultures: the diversity of meaning”

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I did it!

Pamela Fox 2016-07-11

I’ve finished reading everything you finished. Thank you so much for writing this, it gives me words/concepts to help me articulate what stances I’m uncomfortable with, and why.
Do you have a supplementary reading list? I feel like a lot of books were mentioned in this, like The Guru Papers.
And relatedly but on a more fun note, what movies do you think convey the complete stance the most? My partner suggested the Watchmen as conveying some aspects, which I haven’t seen yet.

Meaningness reading list

David Chapman 2016-07-11

A reading list is a great idea—thanks! It would be a lot of work… but fun! For now, some books chosen without great care. The first three are the largest influences on Meaningness, but are quite difficult. There are some easier and more fun books later, plus one extremely fun movie at the end!

Robert Kegan’s The Evolving Self and In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life. I wrote about his work here.

Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time. Probably the most influential philosophy book of the 20th century, but very hard going. I’d recommend reading Hubert Dreyfus’ Being-in-the-World first or instead. I discussed both briefly here.

Mipham’s Beacon of Certainty is the third and final possibly-largest-influence. Also extremely difficult, I’m afraid.

Will Buckingham’s Finding Our Sea-Legs: Ethics, Experience and the Ocean of Stories. Almost the only book on ethics I can recommend, besides Kegan’s. I reviewed it here. A fun, easy, sometimes-touching read.

Baumeister’s Meanings of Life. Perhaps the project most similar to Meaningness. I was annoyed all the way through it, because he says many things I was going to say, which I thought I had thought of first.

George Ainsle’s Breakdown of Will. One of the best books on what it means to be a self.

Robert Bly’s A Little Book on the Human Shadow, another of the best books on what it means to have a self. Written from an extremely different point of view (Jungian folklore interpretation) than Ainsle’s (mathematical game theory). A major influence on my series on dark culture. Eventually I’ll present it quite differently here in Meaningness.

Adam Seligman et al.’s Rethinking Pluralism: Ritual, Experience, and Ambiguity and Ritual and Its Consequences. Major contributions to the understanding of “nebulosity” and “porous boundaries.” I reviewed Ritual here.

Geoffrey Miller’s Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior. This was the main influence on my “Ethics is advertising.” A fun, easy, and insightful read.

Richard Rorty’s Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. A classic of “post-rationalism.” A bit dated and derivative, but much easier to read than Heidegger or Wittgenstein (who had the same ideas many decades earlier).

Camus’ The Rebel. On the positive and negative aspects of rebellion. Also, in effect, a rebuttal of existentialism. An easy and enjoyable read.

Ken Wilber’s Boomeritis. Recommended mostly out of narcissism, on the theory that the novel’s anti-hero is based on me.

Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality. Only incidentally about sex, it’s mainly about the relationship between intellectual systems and power.

Charles Taylor, A Secular Age. I haven’t actually read this, but it’s been a major indirect influence. The general consensus is that it’s brilliant, but the writing is awful.

Hobsbawm’s The Invention of Tradition. This is both insightful and very funny, in a dry and British way. I discussed it here.

François Julien’s The Great Image Has No Form, or On the Nonobject through Painting. Difficult, but is another significant contribution to the understanding of “nebulosity.” I wrote about it here, somewhat in passing.

Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. This is a bit dated, and a bit pop, but has useful insight into enjoyment.

Frank Schaeffer’s Crazy For God and and Sex, Mom, and God. I found these enormously fun, although they are only tangentially relevant to Meaningness. I discussed them here.

The one movie is Scott Pilgrim vs The World. I’m planning to write a long page just about it, as a paradigm of the fluid mode. I’m not sure the connection would be obvious without reading that, or compelling if you did; but the movie is a lot of fun anyway!

It’s great that you read all the way through the book-so-far! I’m really glad it was helpful enough that you were motivated to do that. You know there’s a metablog, with similar content? Plus several more web sites, with rather less similar content.

Ken Wilber’s Boomeritis

Danyl Strype 2024-02-09

Speaking of Ken Wilber, I also recommend A Brief History of Everything. It’s a reasonably thin volume and I found it fairly easy and fun to read. I was loaned a copy at a time when I was trying to reconcile the undergrad science studies I was doing at the time, with the vaguely post-rationalist perspective I’d wandered into in my late teens.

I was looking for a way to rebut materialist scientism, without jettisoning the idea of a shared, objective world, as so many of my New Age friends had done. But I’d already spent a few years playing around with metaphysics and existentialism and found it lacking, for roughly the reasons David describes in Meaningness.

Wilber’s description of everything as a “holon”, with surfaces that can be measured and depths that must be interpreted, was very helpful for this. His book also contributed to my thinking when I wrote a conference paper while working with CreativeCommons Aotearo/NZ, on their proposal to create a new CC license for protecting indigenous cultural knowledge. Particularly his concept of the Big Three (science, art, and ethics) need to be differentiated and then integrated, and the idea of every holon having an individual and a collective aspect as well as exterior and interior. At some point I want to revise and republish the paper, but there is a copy archived here;

A Brief History of Everything

David Chapman 2024-02-10

I also recommend A Brief History of Everything. It’s a reasonably thin volume and I found it fairly easy and fun to read.

Thanks! Yes, I also read it, for those reasons :)

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