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John Holbo - Editor
Scott Eric Kaufman - Editor
Aaron Bady
Adam Roberts
Amardeep Singh
Andrew Seal
Bill Benzon
Daniel Green
Jonathan Goodwin
Joseph Kugelmass
Lawrence LaRiviere White
Marc Bousquet
Matt Greenfield
Miriam Burstein
Ray Davis
Rohan Maitzen
Sean McCann
Guest Authors

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Miriam Jones

Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

Event Archive

cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

Event Archive

cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

Event Archive

cover of the book How Novels Think

Event Archive

cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

Event Archive

cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

Event Archive

cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

Event Archive

The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Walden 2.0

Posted by John Holbo on 10/30/05 at 08:49 AM

From Walden:

At present our houses are cluttered and defiled with it, and a good housewife would sweep out the greater part into the dust hole, and not leave her morning’s work undone. Morning work! By the blushes of Aurora and the music of Memnon, what should be man’s morning work in this world? I had three pieces of limestone on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily, when the furniture of my mind was all undusted still, and threw them out the window in disgust. How, then, could I have a furnished house? I would rather sit in the open air, for no dust gathers on the grass, unless where man has broken ground.

Thoreau never had to deal with spam. Paul Ford has a lovely little essay, updating these sentiments. If there is nothing else you should be doing, you might read it.


Comments

A cognitive media counter-argument, hooked on Judyism [templink].

(How can I resist? Ron uses ‘Kinbotean’ like Michiko uses ‘limn’.)

By nnyhav on 10/30/05 at 11:15 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I think it’ll need to be Walden 3, or at least 2.1. Walden 2 is taken.

By Kieran on 10/31/05 at 12:26 AM | Permanent link to this comment

Walden 2 is, by the way, one of those books that seemingly turns up at every used book store.

One of these days I’d like to see someone do a study that explains the general factors involved in why this happens.  It obviously must have something to do with size of the book’s print run plus general readability or rereadability of the book.  But that’s not quite it, because most bad books just get remaindered in heaps and then vanish.  The books that linger in used book stores have to be the ones that people actually buy, don’t read, keep for a while thinking vaguely that they’ll get to it sometime, and finally sell to a user book store when they need to make room.  Walden 2 seems like a natural for this form of survival because of its combination of successful title choice (annoying to the degree that it gets you to pick up the book, perhaps) and Skinnerian irrelevance.  I have no idea why it’s being reissued.  Maybe it’s being used as a textbook for some class.

By on 10/31/05 at 08:54 AM | Permanent link to this comment

The Valvistas might actually read Walden II and inquire into why Skinner is thought to be irrelevant. Perhaps it’s because of some widespread and unfounded assumption that Chomsky refuted all of behaviorism?, or is it because postmodernism and behaviorism is thought to be some sort of structuralist oppression. Or perhaps it’s due to some sort of jewish academic resentment for white psychologists. Either way, i’s a mistake. More irrelevant and incapable of confirmation than Shinner’s ideas on conditioning and the effect of “environment” in shaping personality (with much empirical data to support it) are Chomsky’s “deep structure” and his rehashing of Rousseauian freedom.

By Jack on 10/31/05 at 12:19 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I would argue that Pavlov resolved all significant problems in psychology, before Skinner was even born.  (I looked on Wikipedia, hoping that he would turn out to be Jewish, but no such luck.)

By Adam Kotsko on 10/31/05 at 01:42 PM | Permanent link to this comment

It’s one of Ford’s NPR-ish pieces. First you think he might be talking Walden; then you think he’s just talking Burning Man; then it turns out he’s only taking a martini break.

I think I’ll stick to paper and ink for focused writing. That’s even cheaper and more portable than the AlphaSmart Neo, and screen size and navigation are considerably better.

By Ray Davis on 11/01/05 at 05:42 PM | Permanent link to this comment

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