Paradigms of Human Memory

Take a walk down memory lane with me
Past a watermelon stand on the way
Thinking I had everything we'd need
on Martha's Foolish Ginger

You were late
How could I forget what you said-
the part about that
"Love taking over your life"
was not your plan

If those harbour lights had just been a half a mile inland
who knows what I would have done
If those harbour lights had just been a half a mile inland
who knows what I would have done

Through the cliffs
out of the Bay I went
From the starboard side
I could black my visions and my passions-
They keep me awake

Birçok şey. Öncelikle, defeatism (tabii ki!):


Lady Violet, Downton Abbey ladies & gents!.. Bugünlerde (son iki gündür), Barış’ın tavsiyesiyle, evvelden pas geçtiğim, Rick & Morty’leri izliyorum — bir sohbet sırasında Barış bana Rick & Morty’nin bir sorunu çözemeyişlerinin ardından, sorunu çözüp, hemen akabinde öldükleri gerçekliğe (“reality”) gidip, oradan devam ettikleri bölümden bahsetmişti (S01E06 – “Rick Potion #9”). O bölümden iki bölüm sonra bir kriz anında Morty Summer’a bunu anlatır:

- Can I show you something?

- Morty, no offense, but a drawing of me you made when you were 8 isn't gonna make make me feel like less of an accident.

- That, out there? That's my grave.

- Wait, what?

- On one of our adventures, Rick and I basically destroyed the whole world. So we bailed on that reality, and we came to this one. Because in this one, the world wasn't destroyed. And in this one, we were dead. So we came here, a-a-and we buried ourselves, and we took their place. And every morning, Summer, I eat breakfast, 20 yards away from my own rotting corpse.

- So, you're not my brother?

- I'm better than your brother. I'm a version of your brother you can trust when he says, "Don't run". Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere... everybody's gonna die. Come watch TV.

R&M, S01E08 - Rixty Minutes (bunu yazdıktan sonra Smiths'in "Reel Around the Fountain"ını dinlemek farz oldu, 3 kere dinledim ben de bu arada)

Ah, ne kadar komik bir çizgi-film şu Rick & Morty! <gözünden yaş gelir…>. Umut verici bir şey, Gaiman’ın Bin Kedinin Rüyası‘nda olduğu gibi, yeterince inananı olursa, paralel evrenler, multiverseler de mümkün. Dr. Strange’in yeni tanıtım filmi çıkmış Comic-Con’da, onda da söylüyorlar hem, tabii ki!

Limitler zorlanıyor, sürekli bir test. Geçen gün bir tanıdığıma “bu dünyaya 10 üzerinden kaç verirdin?” diye sordum da, “günaha sokma beni…” cevabını verdi. Ama sonradan hatırladım ki, ben olayı çözmüştüm ki zaten (spoiler: Bruce Wills filmin başından beri ölü)

İki tane alıntılayacağım şey vardı, haydi Robert Graves’in “I, Claudius”undan Caligula’nın imparator oluşuna dair kısmı da sayalım, üç olsun, üşendim. Üşenmemeliyim halbuki, değil mi, aydınlanma, bilginin mutlak iyiliği erdemi vs… Buyrunuz o halde:

Caligula was twenty-five when he became Emperor. Seldom, if ever, in the history of the world has a prince been more enthusiastically acclaimed on his accession or had an easier task offered him of gratifying the modest wishes of his people, which were only for peace and security. With a bulging treasury, well-trained armies, an excellent administrative system that needed only a little care to get it into perfect order again—for in spite of Tiberius' neglect the Empire was still running along fairly well under the impetus given it by Livia—with all these advantages, added to the legacy of love and confidence he enjoyed as Germanicus' son, and the immense relief felt by Tiberius' removal, what a splendid chance he had of being remembered in history as "Caligula the Good", or "Caligula the Wise", or "Caligula the Saviour"! But it is idle to write in this way. For if he had been the sort of man that the people took him for, he would never have survived his brothers or been chosen by Tiberius as his successor.

Robert Graves, "I, Claudius"
As I write, the President of the United States is a former Hollywood movie actor. One of his principal challengers in 1984 was once a featured player on television's most glamorous show of the 1960s, that is to say, an astronaut. Naturally, a movie has been made about his extraterrestrial adventure. Former nominee George McGovern has hosted the popular television show "Saturday Night Live". So has a candidate of more recent vintage, the Reverend Jessee Jackson.

Meanwhile, former President Richard Nixon, who once claimed he lost an election because he was sabotaged by make-up men, has offered Senator Edward Kennedy advice on how to make a serious run for the presidency: lose twenty pounds. Although the Constitution makes no mention of it, it would appear that fat people are now effectively excluded from running for high political office. Probably bald people as well. Almost certainly those whose looks are not significantly enhanced by the cosmetician's art. Indeed, we may have reached the point where cosmetics has replaced ideology as the field of expertise over which a politician must have competent control. (...) To take an example closer to home: as I suggested earlier, it is implausible to imagine that anyone like our twenty-seventh President, the multi-chinned, three-hundred-pound William Howard Taft, could be put forward as a presidential candidate in today's world. The shape of a man's body is largely irrelevant to the shape of his ideas when he is addressing a public in writing or on the radio or, for that matter, in smoke signals. But it is quite relevant on television. The grossness of a three-hundred-pound image, even a talking one, would easily overwhelm any logical or spiritual subtleties conveyed by speech. For on television, discourse is conducted largely through visual imagery, which is to say that television gives us a conversation in images, not words. The emergence of the image-manager in the political arena and the concomitant decline of the speech writer attest to the fact that television demands a different kind of content from other media. You cannot do political philosophy on television. Its form works against the content.

Neil Postman, "Amusing Ourselves to Death"

Şimdiki alıntının biraz daha rahat anlaşılması için ön bilgi: Kahneman, insan beyninin karar verme aşamasında başlıca olarak iki sistemin rol oynadığını öne sürer: 1. sistem eldeki/göz önündeki imkanları kullanarak hızlı karar veren, düşünme eylemini çok tetiklemeyen ve hayatımızdaki baskın sistem olup, 2. sistemse, analitik olarak tartıp biçtiğimiz, ince eleyip sık dokuduğumuz vs vs.. ama çok tembel olan, bu yüzden de ilkine göre nadiren devreye giren sistem olmakta. Bu benim anlatırken “birincisi kaka, ikinci cici” şeklinde değil — sözgelimi araba sürerken ikincisi devreye girse 10km/saat ile bile gidiyorken paniklememiz an meselesi. Hayatta kalmamızı çok büyük oranda 1. sistemi kullanıyor olmamıza borçluyuz ama o da bazen -hemen her zaman- boyundan büyük işlere kalkıyor, 2.’nin önüne geçiyor, ikinci de gerçi dünden razı tembelliğinden…

For a specific example of a basic assessment, consider the ability to discriminate friend from foe at a glance. This contributes to one’s chances of survival in a dangerous world, and such a specialized capability has indeed evolved. Alex Todorov, my colleague at Princeton, has explored the biological roots of the rapid judgments of how safe it is to interact with a stranger. He showed that we are endowed with an ability to evaluate, in a single glance at a stranger’s face, two potentially crucial facts about that person: how dominant (and therefore potentially threatening) he is, and how trustworthy he is, whether his intentions are more likely to be friendly or hostile. The shape of the face provides the cues for assessing dominance: a “strong” square chin is one such cue. Facial expression (smile or frown) provides the cues for assessing the stranger’s intentions. The combination of a square chin with a turned-down mouth may spell trouble. The accuracy of face reading is far from perfect: round chins are not a reliable indicator of meekness, and smiles can (to some extent) be faked. Still, even an imperfect ability to assess strangers confers a survival advantage.

This ancient mechanism is put to a novel use in the modern world: it has some influence on how people vote. Todorov showed his students pictures of men’s faces, sometimes for as little as one-tenth of a second, and asked them to rate the faces on various attributes, including likability and competence. Observers agreed quite well on those ratings. The faces that Todorov showed were not a random set: they were the campaign portraits of politicians competing for elective office. Todorov then compared the results of the electoral races to the ratings of competence that Princeton students had made, based on brief exposure to photographs and without any political context. In about 70% of the races for senator, congressman, and governor, the election winner was the candidate whose face had earned a higher rating of competence. This striking result was quickly confirmed in national elections in Finland, in zoning board elections in England, and in various electoral contests in Australia, Germany, and Mexico. Surprisingly (at least to me), ratings of competence were far more predictive of voting outcomes in Todorov’s study than ratings of likability.
Todorov has found that people judge competence by combining the two dimensions of strength and trustworthiness. The faces that exude competence combine a strong chin with a slight confident-appearing smile. There is no evidence that these facial features actually predict how well politicians will perform in office. But studies of the brain’s response to winning and losing candidates show that we are biologically predisposed to reject candidates who lack the attributes we value—in this research, losers evoked stronger indications of (negative) emotional response. This is an example of what I will call a judgment heuristic in the following chapters. Voters are attempting to form an impression of how good a candidate will be in office, and they fall back on a simpler assessment that is made quickly and automatically and is available when System 2 must make its decision.

Political scientists followed up on Todorov’s initial research by identifying a category of voters for whom the automatic preferences of System 1 are particularly likely to play a large role. They found what they were looking for among politically uninformed voters who watch a great deal of television. As expected, the effect of facial competence on voting is about three times larger for information-poor and TV-prone voters than for others who are better informed and watch less television. Evidently, the relative importance of System 1 in determining voting choices is not the same for all people. We will encounter other examples of such individual differences.

System 1 understands language, of course, and understanding depends on the basic assessments that are routinely carried out as part of the perception of events and the comprehension of messages. These assessments include computations of similarity and representativeness, attributions of causality, and evaluations of the availability of associations and exemplars. They are performed even in the absence of a specific task set, although the results are used to meet task demands as they arise.

Daniel Kahneman, "Thinking Fast and Slow"

Bana hiç bakmayın — ben, daha önce de bir ihtimal söylemiş/yazmış olacağım üzere, birbirini tanımayan bir dolu insanın metroda birbirlerini öldürmeden, etkileşime geçmeden nasıl olup da bir noktadan bir noktaya gidebildikleri medeniyet seviyesine ulaştıklarına bile şaşakalan bir kanaat seviyesine sahibim bütün insanlık hakkında.

Hazır ahkâm çeşmemi açmışken (ki, dikkatinizi çekerim, henüz alıntılar dışında pek bir şey de yazmış değilim henüz), değinmek istediğim bir konu daha vardı (William Faulkner’ın “Barn Burning” hikayesi üzerinden açılacaktım) ama değinmeyeceğim (özetle: yazının başından bu yana kararımdan döndüm). Faulkner demişken: dün Levent’le, Almodovar yakın zamanda bir şey yapmış mı diye bakınıyorduk ki, Alice Munro’nun hikayelerinden bir film çekmiş olduğunu gördük (Julieta (2016)).

Başka ne yazacaktım? Yazmak yerine bahsedeyim de bitireyim… Hatırlayamadım. Hafıza kolaylıkla değiştirilebilen, güvenemeyeceğiniz bir şey. Öyle fena deneyler öğrendim ki insanın hafızasının, karar verme yeteneğinin (yetenek değil de, başka bir şey deniyordu buna… meziyet miydi ki? — yok mekanizmaydı aklımdaki sanırım) ne kadar da kaypak olduğuna dair. Bir de Strugatsky’lerin Roadside Picnic kitabından bahsedecektim – doğrudan kitaptan değil de, orayla ilgili bir şeylerden, o da gitti aklımdan, aman, neyse. (o sırada alternatif evrende…)

-Kendimce- İç karartıcı yazılar yazınca, görev edineyim, bir dansla bitireyim. Öyleyse bugünkü dansımız seyretmemiş olduğum Hal Hartley’nin Simple Men (1992) filminden tüm frustrated gençliğe (siz nasıl diyoğ?…) gelsin (çalan şarkı: Sonic Youth – “Kool Thing”):