Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Plausible quotations and statistics

Chief archeologist Yigal Alon-Tamir says that hundreds of two-thousand year old chocolate coins minted by the Maccabees have been discovered at a dig near the town of Shechem. His team have left a few of the coins uneaten, so that expert chocleteurs can analyse them and discover what's changed in chocolate making techniques in the last 2 300 years. "they're not bad" says Professor Alon Tamir, "sure a little stale, but nothing worse than the kinds of things you'll find on the shelves of petrol station shops or 24/7 convenience stores."

One out of five children between the ages on 9-17 has a diagnosable mental disorder....(i.e it is possible to pathologize and pin a label on at least one out of five children, generally as a way of handling the parent's or teacher's unresolved anxieties and blind spots)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Parenting Styles and Politics

Once I was on a plane – a domestic flight I believe – perhaps between Joburg and Cape Town. For some reason the plane was delayed. A toddler who sat next to her young mother became more and more distressed and began (or continued, she may have already boarded the plane crying) to sob and shriek very loudly...even ear piercingly. The shrieks and wailing continued as the mother tried, unsuccessfully, to calm her. Other passengers stared, and a succession of cabin crew offered advice. A dummy was tried, food, the mother held the child tightly and rocked her, but the shrieks just grew louder and louder. The mother, sensing the agitation and hostility of other passengers, and her own helplessness, seemed to me worthy of tremendous compassion.

My natural impulse was to empathise with mother and child, to give them some space, to see if there was anything that could be done to reduce their mutual distress. But not all the passengers, disturbed by the uncontained and persistent shrieking, saw it that way. “Giver her a warm klap” offered one. “She needs a good hiding....I’ll sort her out” said another. These comments evoked my own issues, and in my own timid way I semi-audibly mumbled “can’t you see she’s inconsolable, she needs help not threats.” In my psychologised mind the child was shrieking for all of us, and the disgruntled passengers were responding with however they as shrieking uncontained frightened or uncomfortable children had been dealt with: heard, soothed, contained or beaten into silence.

The real difference in politics – as in everything else – is not between left and right or fundamentalists vs secularists but between those who are conscious about their own process and projections and those who are unconscious about them.

Imagine if there were mandatory ante-natal courses where young parents, instead of been taught all the technical stuff about breastfeeding and latching and nappy changing (not that those are not important) were taught the basics of surviving post natal depression, and how they could advantage their child by facilitating secure attachment, ie, a course training new parents to be effective "interactive psychobiological regulators" through physical contact (touch, feeding and cuddles), eye contact, and vocal tone (comforing sounds and lullabies), play, stimulation (arousal) and rest and disengagement, all in an intuitive rythm and dance between mother and child, and father and child. Yes a lot of input up front, and costly, but a stitch in time saves nine...and (as Mr Indivar Bilenko points out) lives.


Bias versus Subjectivity

Everything is embedded in a specific, particularistic set of circumstances. Seeing only what you see from your corner of the universe is not necessarily about bias, (although the deliberate refusal to consider other points of view may be) it is about human limitation – our conditioning is linear and non-repeatable, so we cannot authentically be products of multiple cultures and circumstances, although we can acquire a superficial knowledge of other cultures.

The word “biased” is itself a “biased” (or loaded, not value neutral) term. It seems to me – and perhaps this is my “bias” – that subjectivities are inherent and inescapable in any particularistic assertion about reality. It is not possible to talk about anything without the subjective, point-of-view of the speaker(s) informing their discussion. Perhaps the only differences can be found in the degree to which speakers are willing to own their “biases” i.e subjectivities, vs their pretence that they don’t have any.


polarity and subjectivity: The balance between polarity and equality as far as the genders go: we want to achieve the latter without losing the former; homogenisation serves no one. the same is true for ethnic, linguistic, faith and cultural groupings in a mosaic of co-existence, how to achieve functional equality without emasculating / defeminising complex traditions....

Tuesday, March 18, 2014