A $1 Summer Acquisition

by Maksymilian Kapelanski

A $1 summer acquisition from a couple of young girls at a garage sale: a suitcase mechanical keyboard glockenspiel in B major diatonic (detuned, equal-tempered), complete with a cardboard set of colour-coded music for: "Three Blind Mice", "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", "This Old Man", "Hickory Dickory Dock", "London Bridge is Falling Down", and "Jack and Jill".

To remind yourself of the melodies, listen below to me playing them on the keyboard glockenspiel.


The 'Like' Button Analyses, Part 2: Mythological ‘Deep Liking’

by Maksymilian Kapelanski

In contrast both to history as a succession of almost palpable, printed facts encased in the iron logic of historical narrative, and to history as seen in the anti-narrative flashes of ‘capricious’, disjointed, and surreal series of ‘likes’, let us consider the possibility of a history conditioned by what I would like to call 'mythological deep liking’.

 

 

‘Mythological’, because like any good myth, true liking goes both higher and deeper then the liking afforded by a one- or even two-dimensional conception of human beings reduced through modern objectifications. But even such reduction is mythological, because the understanding of the human being is mythological no matter how vigorously the label is eschewed. If we consider some reductive views of humanity, we cannot but help think how much faith and fervent ideal transpires through their often structural figments of imagination. Still today we cannot get away from mythologizing ourselves, because there is no objective way to understand the human being, just as there is no way to grasp the mind. Since we cannot give up grasping itself, we are always transposing ideas to at least get hold of the spectre of the thing to be understood.

 

 

I have proposed ‘deep liking’, since in contrast to some of the surface, Internet ‘shallow liking’, the former is a true romance that goes to the very core of the human being. This human being intuitively creates with it the total worlds in which he and she lives, fashioning out the stuff of structure, pleasure, understanding, and passion into the mind’s internal dwellings, weaving around it the ornate fabric of ‘reality’ as revealed in history. But even the Internet's 'shallow liking‘ can be rehabilitated as a deep, mythical category. For example, in its depths, echoes of the bifurcated moral space of Christianity resound at the moment of the binary decision making on the Internet: ‘evil’ or ‘good’ - ‘like’ or ‘unlike’.

 

 

In a deep way, traces of old myths and their methodological axioms abound around us, and I will not even mention here the overworked ‘rock-star-as-God’ cliché. The contemporary religious marketplace is itself an arena for ‘liking’ and ‘unliking’, except the moral choice intrinsic to the monolithic religious societies of the past is now being applied from above, as a meta-category to the personal choice between religions. If we are tempted to judge this type of mentality, let us remember that even God decided, after having finished working on the World, that he liked the result. When he turned to Noah, he was already ‘unliking’ its developments.

 

 

Everyday we hover around 'shallow like’ and exploit it, while not fully understanding it. But lest we become self-satisfied with our analysis and start liking it, we need to ask: where does ‘deep like’ reside? We must search deeper for this inspiring though elusive category, and I suspect that it is intrinsic to the mind. What happens in the mind when ‘deep like’ is activated? What are the scientists and the psychoanalysts saying? What are the theists and the Buddhists saying? Will our perception of 'shallow like’ change when we analyze its contexts and create a depth for it, to be properly mined? And what will be left when we analyze the very core of ‘deep like’? Will the contemporary Internet social structure fall apart? If we analyze ‘deep like’ will we analyze it - or even ourselves - away?

 

The 'Like' Button Analyses, Part 1: 'Liking' and 'Unliking' Myths

by Maksymilian Kapelanski

European history was serious business as it was presented in my youth. As students we endured the almost palpable, printed facts and iron logic of historical narrative in high school and at university, and there was nothing funny or introspective about it. On the other hand, to people partaking in today’s fun, ironic, cyber-consciousness which operates in entertaining fragmentation, the intersubjective psycho-drama of the European narrative seems more like a series of disjointed, surreal caprices. We begin to wonder if the myths of the Old World were not subject to a succession of whimsical ‘likes’ and ‘unlikes’ of society, in analogy to the popular ‘friending’ and ‘unfriending’ functions, 'thumbs up' and 'thumbs down' buttons, and other similar graphic interface elements used on the Internet. Thus, political, social, and moral ideas and standards in history could be seen as having been ‘liked’ and then ‘unliked’ as if in spontaneous, ‘viral’ media fashion.

If we were to link these disjointed, bite-size 'caprices' of history, we could get the impression that the Mediaeval worldview was largely deconstructed in a world-famous series of ‘unlikes’ which unfolded over centuries and were instigated by the main social actors. Geocentricity was ‘unliked’ by Copernicus, the idea of the Monarch as God’s representative on Earth was ‘unliked’ with the rise of the bourgeoisie, the idea of Man as God’s creation 'unliked' by Darwin; furthermore, the bifurcation of morality into good and evil was ‘unliked’ by Max Stirner and Nietzsche, and Love as a divine gift ‘unliked’ by modern chemists, to name only a few examples.

If we were to follow this train of thought, we could perhaps advance the idea that the gradual disassembling and 'unliking' of tradition simultaneously assists in a building up and ‘liking’ of new myths. Can there really be a minus without a plus? One story of a societal ‘like’ filling the vacuum of a massive ‘unlike’ is story of Modernism, a great myth which has aged in poor fashion, in part because of its neglect of the human body and the starved flesh around the ideas it posited. Another vacuum-filling, collective ‘liking’ was the New Age movement, later a prime example of the principle that any 'likes' constructed in a cultural vacuum emergency are subject to rapid 'deliking'.

In the back of our minds our intelligence still tells us that history is not quite so shallow and fashion-based (although Michel Onfray accuses intellectuals themselves of opportunistic fads). At the same time, from the contemporary vantage point the analogy to ‘liking’ and ‘unliking’ points to an ever stronger impression of a whimsical type of history, an impression which closes in on us ever more tightly, securing increasing amounts of imaginative space. The described effect can be understood as the price to pay for not having been sensitized to the deep level as well as the meta-level of history in those long-lasting high school and university courses of our youth.