On what’s after postmodernism: holistic pragmatic clarification of concepts

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

OR WATCH THE VIDEO

Contradictions, obfuscations, and lack of clarity have not only seized so much of academia (as my friend Heather Lockheart brilliantly discusses in her thesis on the topic) but also it has led to the emboldening of blatant racism from President Trump and his supporters, along with a wider embrace of immorality in general. Trump’s TV lawyer Rudolph Giuliani has gone so far as arguing that “truth is not truth.” Where did this postmodern way of thinking come from? Can we blame Nietzsche? Although postmodernism clearly leads to problematic modes of thought, does it raise any valid points? Is there anything “after” or “beyond” postmodernism? I say “yes!” and that includes some iteration of a holistic pragmatic clarification of concepts. 

PRODUCED BY ASHLEY O’CONNOR AND MONTANIZ STILLS

Thank you again for visiting the Public Comment website which I created back in 2012. After 7 years of  experimentation and uncertainty about the identity and direction the website should take on, I established, in June of 2019, an official focuses on politics and philosophy and launched the podcast. As a political activist and philosopher, my goal here on Public Comment is to contribute to a universal dialogue of critical, creative, and introspective thought on politics and philosophy– a dialogue I hope you’ll join in the comments below.

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-q8w9q-b8529c

Advertisements

On competition

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

OR WATCH THE VIDEO

Competition is an inevitable part of life. Even at the most metaphysical and psychological level, this piece of perception and that piece are competing for our integrated and perceptual focus and perspective. If you look out the window you inevitably choose where your eyes will focus, and some aspects of the scenery will lose out to other aspects in scope or magnification. There may be some ways to curb the anxiety inducing aspects of inevitable competition, or even get rid of competition in certain parts of our lives altogether, thanks to niche marketing and hyper-personalization. But to what degree should we get rid of competition? To what degree (if any at all?) do the postmodern aspects of niche marketing and hyper-personalization destroy opportunities for universal experience and community? 

Thank you again for visiting the Public Comment website which I created back in 2012. After 7 years of  experimentation and uncertainty about the identity and direction the website should take on, I established, in June of 2019, an official focuses on politics and philosophy and launched the podcast. As a political activist and philosopher, my goal here on Public Comment is to contribute to a universal dialogue of critical, creative, and introspective thought on politics and philosophy– a dialogue I hope you’ll join in the comments below.

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-fw56z-b82f3d

On the People Beyond the Sales Pitches (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary Vlog– Episode #21)

As global/international society sophisticates and deepens its connection through communication technologies and improved alliances I think we ought to reexamine what we mean when we identify with and distinguish ourselves nationally….and beyond the context of laws we are subject to…beyond the jurisdictional context, that is to say.

TRANSCRIPT

I want to talk more about my notion of vlogging and my fascination with the medium.

Like I said yesterday, I care very deeply about preserving records of personal contemplations as a way to better understand the self in relation to society, environment, and time, for both contemporary-social purposes and journalistic-historical purposes.

What does it really mean to know somebody? I mean the person beyond the sales pitch– though not necessarily excluding it for we are, in part, the work we are so passionate about.

Some people can’t relate to my love for commercials and ads. Really, I do enjoy them in many respects. I don’t mind that someone would like my money. I only mind if that’s all someone cares about in his or her interaction with me. So the commercials and ads for those products which are of high quality…I actually find inspiration in that…a find a sense of culture, society, and one where conditions are improving.

Still, there is much to be troubled about with respect to how we approach our productivity, consumerism, materialism, commercialism, capitalism, et cetera.

Think for example of what goes on behind the production of our electrionics. It is not just, for example, Apple, where worker suicide in China has been widely reported over the last decade–  that abuses and exploits its workers. So does Samsung.

From a recent USA Today piece written by  Pham Thi Minh Hang and Joseph DiGangi,

Our organizations explored this hidden story by conducting in-depth, open-ended, confidential interviews with 45 women who work on the assembly lines at two Samsung factories in Vietnam. What we found was shocking.

All the workers we interviewed reported that they experienced episodes of dizziness or fainting at work. High noise levels violated legal limits. After standing at work for 70 to 80 hours a week, they reported pain in their bones, joints, and legs. Not a single worker we interviewed received a copy of her work contract (a violation of Vietnamese labor law).

(And Huawei…well that company is deeply embedded in and subsidized by a totalitarian communist regime in China. So the three titans of the smart phones– they really give us this amazing technology at the expense of extremely unethical practices. )

Bringing this back to knowing a person though…I wonder if there is a relationship between the degree of permissiveness humanity on a global level possesses with respect to the exploitation and harm behind the production of its most cherished technology and possessions, and perhaps the degree to which we really hold back from understanding our humanness, our souls, our senses of self.  

I must report to you, I felt …. Really for the first time since I began this vlog just short of 3 weeks ago,  a bit of insecurity this morning trying to wrap my mind around the sense of my “purpose” in some kind of marketable expression about it. “What the hell am I really doing and why am I doing it?” I wondered. And I worried if I came across to you as either too professional or too unprofessional. Then I though of a vlog I recently watched by a gentleman who goes by the name Daniel DC Becker.

He began a vlog to document his experience with colon cancer. In his vlog about anxiety he opens up about his temptation to delete the vlog he’s making or at least not to share it, bu then he stops himself.

He says “I don’t want to hide this aspect of myself” he says that “feels like giving up. So I’m gonna put this out there. This is me. For better or worse”

I can relate to that. I don’t want to hide my thoughts.

I mean, I don’t feel a need to tell you EVERYTHING. So how does one decide that which one should share? Afterall, privacy too, is a wonderful value– I believe privacy is part of one’s sense of self, that and the choice of keeping this or that private.

But how then do I decide what goes into the private category and what gets placed into the share with humanity category? This of course addresses a wider issue, does it not? That issue of those aspects of ourselves we keep to ourselves. (Some people perhaps could focus on sharing less and can overwhelm us…inundate us with more of themselves than we might want to know but the question of what about others we are curious about I think is another issue)

From my point of view, as of now, I like to share thoughts I believe I have vetted meaningfully…thoughts I feel a degree of confidence about…or rather…opinions I have confidence in…

Maybe judicious sharing of the self as a root in the realm of opinion. That is to say, we have put enough thought in some aspects of ourselves to have some degree of logically, factually supported opinion on it. That;s my theory as of now on the matter. I think it may make some sense and may connect to the social media concept.

Like I said yesterday, vlogging in particular offers a fascinating counter-balance to tweeting (and I should add also, Instagram too). Where vlogging offers more deeply contemplated, thorough, longer winded thought (in theory), the tweet is limited to 280 characters (unless you go live) and on Instagram too.  

So my love for vlogging is necessarily a love more broadly speaking of social media and did I mention earlier to you the irony considering how shy I’ve been for most of life?

Social media speaks as of late to a major frustration in life I’ve only recently discovered an outlet for: a feeling of an immense weight consisting of an abundance of contemplations that felt “off the record” which I wanted on the record. Social media puts it on the record for as long as the social media sites care to preserve that which we publish on their sites.

I also wanted to discuss with you the European Union Parliamentary Elections that conclude today.  Europe is a place I wish I paid more attention to. A place I hope to one day visit. As you may discover is widely reported, key issues relevant to these elections include mass immigration, Islamization, nationalism and populism versus centralized European control (quite like our states rights versus federalism debate).

To me, and you might have noted this from previous vlogs, the stand out issue of interest is the question of nationalism versus centralization…and even more widely, nationalism versus globalism.

A question which has long been on my mind: what is the moral basis for the special distinction of country…of fragmented political entities, regions, et cetera? To be clear, I am not asking what the purpose of GOVERNMENT as such is. That’s an entirely different question.

From an evolutionary perspective, of course, “country” or ‘nation” makes sense. Humanity spread itself out and the question of order and resources loomed.   

But as global/international society sophisticates and deepens its connection through communication technologies and improved alliances I think we ought to reexamine what we mean when we identify with and distinguish ourselves nationally….and beyond the context of laws we are subject to…beyond the jurisdictional context, that is to say.

Ideology and philosophy of course are key as much as economic integration is. Alliances and “unions” like the United States or the European Union speak to certain constitutional and fundamental values and principles that in theory or legal practice are supposed to be shared.

Postmodernism has complicated this. Even if not in fact the actual intention of postmodern philosophers, I think notions of extreme relativism are severely prone to fragmentation and nationalism. Ironically even extreme individualism.

I say this as an individualist myself.

The point is, I believe there is a sort of global philosophical pressure in the realm of identity– the protection of individual autonomy and reconciling that with universal interests.

What compels us to say— this land must be American land…or French, or Chinese, or Kenyan, or Russian, et cetera? And what justifies it? How much less compelled would people be to lean towards nationalism if economic anxiety were no longer an issue? How much of nationalism is directly fueled by economic anxiety and assuaged by tribalism?

I really can’t speak to many of the factors specifically pertaining to Europe because I’m not currently educated in the realm of contemporary European affairs so much. But with Brexit in recent memory it is obvious how much economic anxiety and trade frustrations and the impact mass immigration on available resources is shaking things up in Europe causing more nationalism.

I wonder if…to look at this all as universally as I can…and I think my wife was saying something to this effect to me yesterday upon reflecting on a book she is reading— Blaming the Victim– by William Ryan. She mentioned, when discussing the book… thinking about isolated issues as things which could happen to any of us and so trying to examine things in a universal way and what if then…as we look at the issues that economic anxiety is causing in the world…all of this nationalism and such…we have more conversation about how to fight poverty in general? It is a loaded issue, but…I can tie this all back to what I said at the beginning of this vlog— thinking about people as people as opposed to robots we are detached from who are producing the lovely things we buy in life-crushing, undignified conditions, all for an unfair price. I’ll rest my case for the day.

Public Comment is a personal journal vlog where I share my free thoughts on politics, culture, and self.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at 
https://twitter.com/sopubliccomment 


On my Atheism Phase, “Universally Speaking,” As Anthony Kiedis Puts It (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #18)

I dismiss entirely a notion I believe is in part upheld based on postmodern type grounds that confine people to little groups of their own values which have nothing to do with groups beyond theirs… (even if so called intellectuals want to think themselves the only people who can intellectualize in a meaningful way)– I mean…this is not directed to so called “intellectuals” though I admit there are grounds to describe my tone as “intellectual” or “esoteric”

TRANSCRIPT:

Hey ‘y’all! (Yes, yes, my fondness of the expression “‘y’all,” despite my coastal, NJ/NY Metropolitan intellectual “Yankee” ((?)) upbringing and cultural practices ((?)) manners of putting things ((?)) continues to grow)

I understand, based on viewer feedback that I might want to try not speaking so slow. Why do I do it? Can I blame my poetry phases? My acting phases? I don’t know. I do like the weight of a word.

Anyway, I want to ask you: do you identify with any particular religion?

I mean, when “push comes to shove” as they say (Yes, I love to say “as they say” and I love those little sayings “they” say— of course…who is they? Some mysterious crowd of people in our minds?) …

I mean, when faced with your sense of mortality or your contemplations on the subject of life in a general way…you know…that very wide angled panoramic view of our births, our childhoods, teenage years, young adulthood (ah…channeling Walt Whitman’s genius poem “Eidolons” here?) the intense desire for sex and whether or not you believe in the depth of romantic relationships, and whether or not you believe in monogamy, marriage, parenthood, sense of purpose, sense of meaning….the meaning of the work you do and the money you make, spend, save, how much you do or do not care about how what you do impacts your health, what you make of social life, whether you want friends, what those friendships are supposed to be like in your mind, how you handle disagreements, when you think about what care about, what some of us might refer to as your “values” or “priorities” or “interests”– when you feel sad and reflect…do you in that context call yourself an Atheist, a Muslim, a Jew, a Christian, a Sikh, a Buddhist? (Just to name a few “religions” or “ideological identities” of the many possibilities).

To what extend have you, within the greatest depths of your convictions, justified, on the granular level, those kinds of religious, ideological, philosophical beliefs you have?

I remember the first ideological/philosophical/religious thought I ever had.

Now, I don’t know where I first heard of the concept of a “God” but I remember at roughly three years old, I asked my grandmother if God was a boy or a girl and my grandma said: “God is whatever you want it to be.”

That is one of the earliest memories I have in general and perhaps closest to the vertabtim of any of my early childhood memories.

I don’t know when it occurred to me that my father’s side of the family was theoretically “Christian” and my mother’s “Jewish,” but I remember when a dear friend of mine asked me what my religion was. I was not older than 13 when that happened and first I joked and said I was Jatholic because all I knew was that there was contradictory religions professed in my complex family with mother, father, stepfather and stepmother all possessing very unique ideological notions.

My dear friend pressed me to really think about what in fact I identified with regarding religion.

I got to thinking about “Santa Clause” which I knew was a lie by then (or a fun, make-believe idea perhaps we want to call it?)

I got to thinking about scientific concepts such as empiricism (terribly ironic too because I failed Math class and didn’t care at all about science…yet science reined supreme in my mind regardless of my interest in it)

No. I did not know the word “empiricism” or if I did, I don’t remember knowing  or using it then. But it did appear to me…whatever God could theoretically be, it is beyond empirical reach…and absent any legitimate scientific proof as far as I could understand, atheism seemed a perfectly fair mentality to me.

And I thought….the God idea is exceptionally comforting…and I thought…interesting that someone would claim to be the son of a God with no proof and people just believe it…and just believe these heaven and hell ideas. And they have the pretentiousness to tell you that God is something you just have to be primed to “feel” and have “faith” in and if you can’t there is something wrong with you.

I became a full fledged atheist and yet my best friend at the time was what he called a “Seventh Day Adventist Christian.”

Our deepening ideological differences, as opposed to creating some kind of crack in our friendship, appeared to give it tremendous strength. I cannot begin to tell you how many countless hours this individual and I spent debating, from every angle we could, the question of why one should or should not believe a God exists.

And moreover, how should people regard a text such as the Bible?

And…what would the implications of these things be? For example, from certain Seventh Day Adventist Christian perspectives I was exposed to, various aspects of sexuality were regarded as sin.

No sex before marriage.

No masturbating.

No lust.

That always troubled me as much as the notion of a God. I thought the notion that a person should not masturbate or explore his or her sexuality was one of the most absurd notions one could possibly come up with.

And there was music many of these kinds of Christians were not supposed to listen to, and ideas of women as subservient that some of these Christians possessed, and a perplexing fixation on Republican politicians…

Other questions that were raised… from the perspective of many who believe in God– I came to learn from this friend of mine-. For example: since God absolutely existed, they thought, truth in general was an absolute thing.

So this was all an introduction for me to the questions of “philosophy” and ethics.

I wonder…if it were not for this brilliant person…this deep, intellectual, philosophical thinker I was so lucky to meet, whether I would have delved so deeply into those topics so many people I know refer to as intellectual or philosophical.

Beyond the scope of the atheism versus Christianity debate I had with this person and then others as I began to develop my own beliefs….and whatever questions arose in this realm…I never thought about concepts such as “philosophy” or “intellectualism.”

I didn’t even…as a teenager, know the meaning of “philosophy” and ironic as this may seem, anyone who, at that time, might have thought themselves “intellectual” was probably somehow — I don’t know how I arrived at this conclusion– detached from life in a more visceral sense.

Because I was an “artist.”

I wasn’t troubled by (or in fact in possession of the confidence to contemplate) notions some might consider “esoteric.”

I want to digress briefly on this concept of the esotertic here.

I am very opposed to a real niche type approach to communication—that is to say, I try to the best of my ability to speak to you in as universal a way…as universal a perspective as I can.

And what do I mean by that? By Universal?

I mean…I don’t view myself as talking exclusively to “intellectuals”  or “artists” or “academics” or “YouTubers” or “Facebookers” or “millennials” or my contemporaries…I mean…for all we know…someway and somehow, this video file will reach an alien life form that can somehow….decipher it.

My point is this…I dismiss entirely a notion I believe is in part upheld based on postmodern type grounds that confine people to little groups of their own values which have nothing to do with groups beyond theirs… (even if so called intellectuals want to think themselves the only people who can intellectualize in a meaningful way)– I mean…this is not directed to so called “intellectuals” though I admit there are grounds to describe my tone as “intellectual” or “esoteric”

((Oh, that reminds me of another “conviction” I had growing up as a kid and a teenager…I didn’t believe in cliques….didn’t want to belong to, confine myself to, or identify with a clique…I didn’t want to be a “jock” or a “nerd:” or a “dork” or a “geek” or a “stoner” or a “goth” or a “punk” or an “emo” or a “band geek” or a “theater geek” or a “bad kid” or any type of group-oriented identifying thing… (though naturally I was an atheist in a purely objective and descriptive sense).

This actually contributed to chronic loneliness as everyone around me seemed to gravitate towards a particular crowd and even when I did gravitate this way or that way I never felt bound to or married to my gravitation.

Getting back to my point here… I’m not targeting anyone IN PARTICULAR here.

What’s that line by Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chilly Peppers?

“Universally Speaking I win in the long run”

And this chain of particular thoughts is to be continued because it’s complex and who doesn’t love a good “to be continued?”

LOL as I love to say. Talk to you tomorrow


Public Comment is a personal journal vlog where I share my free thoughts on politics, culture, and self.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at 
https://twitter.com/sopubliccomment 

On marketing (part 1: anxiety), free thought (part 2), and free trade

Listen to the podcast

or watch the video

My incompetence thus far in self marketing, the development of my understanding in the value of free thought, and a look at the debate over free trade and protectionism in the realm of trade policy.

IN THIS EPISODE:

When it comes to self marketing (as opposed to political marketing, or marketing for an employer), anxiety and a complicated array of thoughts, at times, stifle me.

I have a fear of annoying people with my requests for their time, feedback, money and/or endorsement, most of all because I understand many of us are quite busy and bombarded with other people asking for our time, feedback, money and endorsements.

Also, I often think of how money can corrupt.

Money doesn’t talk, it swears

obscenity, who really cares?

Propaganda, all is phony…

-Bob Dylan

I wonder: am I corrupted, in my self-marketing by an unreasonable desire for money, attention, praise, undeserved self advancement, narcissism, et cetera? (I certainly believe in my early twenties I suffered from slight narcissistic tendencies, though as a defense mechanism since I suffered from severe anxiety, depression, and self esteem challenges. That is to say, I desired undeserved praise, attention, and introspected just for the sake of gaining awareness of my own thoughts as existing things, not for the sake of understanding and vetting them!).

I also think of other examples where money seems to blatantly corrupt individuals, companies, corporations, politicians, et cetera—(Weapon producers/dealers, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, oil/energy companies).

Those insecurities aside, obviously we need resources to live and also it is reasonable to stand up for the products/services we believe in, whether we are advocate consumers, or involved in the product(s)/service(s) ourselves. After all, why should something one offers, when it is of value, linger in vain?

That, I believe, would be unethical.

So I tie my sense of self marketing to the moral convictions motivating those aspects of myself I “market.”

So what do I say then, is the moral marketability of my shared “free thoughts?”

Frankly, I question how much genuinely “free” thought is truly “out there” when you consider not just profit concerns/ popularity concerns and how that could inject bias into shared thoughts but also how people (I have done it myself. Example: when I was obsessed with Ayn Rand) can slip into dogmas. Even postmodernism can become a dogmatic blinder, as opposed to mere healthy skepticism and independence.

On a separate note, I want to initiate a conversation about trade policy.

There are two articles I recommend. One by the Economist and one by Foreign Policy. The latter addresses the politics versus the economics of free trade, as well as policy options with respect to how we might want to deal with the inevitable harm to certain job holders that free trade results in: Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) which serves like compensation specifically for those adversely affected.

Tell me what you think. Email me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter at
https://twitter.com/sopubliccomment

Public Comment is a video diary styled vlog and personal journal podcast where I share my free thoughts on politics, culture, and self.

#ImpeachTrumpNow: Demand That Congress Do It Immediately!

This was a Facebook Live Stream I did on 7/18/18 explaining the facts behind my utter conviction that we need to call our members of congress and demand that they impeach Trump. My friend and co-worker said I should put this on YouTube to reach more people.

Treason, obstruction of justice, violation of the emoluments clause, violation of the first amendment, forcing babies at the border from their parents- the list of President Trump’s criminal and unethical behavior goes on and on!

Perhaps the most frightening of his disgusting and unacceptable behavior was when he suggested handing to Vladimir Putin, former U.S. diplomat Michael McFaul.

As McFault put himself in a tweet:Screen Shot 2018-07-20 at 4.08.33 PM

[McFaul’s Tweet]

I was terrified when I learned that Trump was open to this. I felt a fear unlike any I’d ever felt before- a fear so chilling I consider it somewhat traumatic for this thought passed through my mind: Trump is open to arresting his/Putin’s critics, sending  them by force, to the dangerous hands of Putin – a man who kills critics and journalists who make an impact. It’s happening, I thought. It’s the beginning of freedom’s demise in America. Critics will now have to fear for their lives.

As Samantha Schmidt reported in The Washington Post, “Tom Nichols, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College and the Harvard Extension School” said in a Tweet:

Screen Shot 2018-07-20 at 4.11.18 PM

The Senate, thank God, unanimously rejected the prospect of this dangerous idea, however, as Nichols tweeted:

“the entire country should be aware of this”

because Trump cares more about how his criminal and unethical relationship with Putin than his own fellow Americans. Add to the pile of evidence the fact that Trump takes Putin’s word over the word of our own intelligence chief, and that makes treason.

I believe Trump should be impeached, removed from office, and arrested immediately! I hope you call your members of congress and demand impeachment now!