“Don’t know much about love”

Ah, this takes me back, to Mozambique, oddly enough (long story, another time).

Baby can you teach me – how to
Baby can you reach me, I’m calling out for you
Underneath your window tonight
I know I ain’t no romeo, so help me make it right

If I can get this message through to your heart
It would be more than I could understand
No beginner ever skipped the start
And I want to learn all than I possibly can

Because I don’t know much
I don’t know much, much about love
Out of touch
I don’t know much, much about love

Baby when you kiss me will I see
That little wish list you’ve been keeping for me
I’m rushing like a fool, babe, ’cause I know
If they taught you this in school
You must have made the honour roll

If I can get this message through to your heart
It would be more than I can understand
No beginner ever skipped the start
And I want to learn more than I possibly can

Because I don’t know much
I don’t know much, much about love
Out of touch
I don’t know much, much about love

I graduated, baby, I can read
But the pages of the heart come difficult for me
I speak my mind girl, everyday
But the language of love
Well, I don’t know how to say

Because I don’t know much
I don’t know much, much about love
Out of touch
I don’t know much, much about love

Because I don’t know much
I don’t know much, much about love
Out of touch
I don’t know much, much about love

That word “laboratory.” I do not think it means what you think it means…


Then again.

So, one of the pleasures of being a PhD student is that you get – occasionally – to sit around and talk about stuff you’ve read  (it’s less pleasurable when it’s something you’ve written [i.e. supervisions]. But I digress).  As part of the cities/urban sustainability reading group, we were getting our thinking gear wrapped around Evans, J (the j stands for jeriatric) and Karvonen, A. 2014. Give Me a Laboratory and I Will Lower Your Carbon Footprint!’ — Urban Laboratories and the Governance of Low-Carbon Futures. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Volume 38.2 March 2014 413–30

This bit leapt out

Kohler charts the frequent use of the expression ‘natural laboratory’ in field biologists’ public and private writings from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. The idea formed part of what he calls biologists’ ‘imaginative infrastructure’ — an implicit but powerful framework for thinking about how human experimenters can know nature. This ‘imaginative infrastructure’ resonates with the way in which the concept of urban laboratories is currently applied to sustainability. Urban laboratories share the assumption that such experiments are superior in their ‘adherence to life as it is really lived’ (Kohler, 2002: 215) and are capable of producing knowledge that will be useful and hence transformative, even if it falls short of the more controlled conditions offered in laboratory activities. The rhetoric surrounding the use of urban laboratories today attests to the desire to capture the authority of experimentation without giving up the authenticity of the real world.
In a chapter titled ‘Border practices’, Kohler considers how the pioneers of population biology worked in the field, developing a systematic approach to data collection over wide areas that allowed them to replicate the causal analysis associated with laboratories. The requirements of the field site were very different for these field biologists. Rather than unique settings in which to observe the more unusual of nature’s experiments unfold, site selection was driven by ease of access and the practicalities of collecting large amounts of data. The paradigmatic example discussed is Raymond Lindeman’s field studies of Cedar Creek Bog in Minnesota, which yielded the trophic-dynamic theory of energy flow that underpins the systems logic of modern ecology. Cedar Creek was chosen because it was easy to access and revealed its secrets cheaply; it was shallow, with a very simple species structure, and, if that was not enough, it could be cored to reveal species compositions over many years. In this way, population biologists managed to develop explanatory analyses from field studies by collecting such a surfeit of data that it became possible to identify variables and causal links between them. Musing on this hybrid, Kohler (2002: 218) asks, ‘what are we to make of a practice whose techniques are of the field, but whose rules of knowing are of the lab?’

This, to quote Tom ‘Lobachevsky’ Lehrer, I knew from nothing.

Kohler reference is this Kohler, R. (2002) Landscapes and labscapes:
exploring the lab–field border in biology. Chicago University Press, Chicago, IL.
Defo an #afterthethesis read

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve – wikipedia here

Raymond Lindeman – wikipedia here.

From which-

The Ten percent law means to the transfer of energy from one trophic level to the next was introduced by Raymond Lindeman (1942). According to this law, during the transfer of energy from organic food from one trophic level to the next, only about ten percent of the energy from organic matter is stored as flesh. The remaining is lost during transfer, broken down in respiration, or lost to incomplete digestion by higher trophic level.

Men and #feminism – labels and so forth.

So, with a fellow PhD student I’ve set up a blog called ‘feminismandtwoguys‘.
The about is this

We are two guys (Steffen and Marc) who are studying in Manchester.  This site is about us trying to learn from different types of feminism. That involves listening, reflecting, honouring the vast amount of physical and intellectual work that has been done by women.

This site is a chronicle of our learning, and an attempt to engage in fruitful and civil conversations with women and men about questions of social and environmental justice.

It is NOT an attempt;

  • to claim that we have somehow ‘arrived’ at a state of being ‘feminist men’ (we disagree over whether men should use that label)
  • to claim leadership of either ‘feminism’ or ‘pro-feminism’
  • to mansplain
Once a month we will both write something on ‘a topic’ – some examples will be
  • What does practical solidarity look like?  What are the grey areas – i.e. when can it end up as silencing, ‘white knighting’ and mansplaining?
  • What are the personal reasons/journeys that brought you to an understanding of feminism?
  • What do you do in situations with other men when someone is being sexist, but not overtly and blatantly so?
  • Which feminist theorists do you like?  Which don’t you like?
  • What changes would you like to see in the way your subculture (academia/activism) works?
  • What are the big gaps in your feminist *practice* that worry you?
We hope to get a conversation going, and learn some stuff (though obvs women are under no obligation to do work of education that we should be doing ourselves).
The first topic (perhaps ill-chosen, but so it goes) was ‘should men sympathetic to feminism label themselves feminists?
Steffen’s take is here. Mine starts below (teaser).  Please comment on t’other site rather than this one…
Should men sympathetic to feminism call themselves feminists?  I don’t think so, for a few reasons. I think it is presumptuous, a misunderstanding, a hostage to fortune and a political mis-step.  In what comes next, I want first off to acknowledge that my position is shaped by reading some fabulous supple thinkers (though errors remain mine).  I can’t track down the exact publications, but these on the notion of ‘allyship’ were part of the mix, I think.
Continued here….

Me love you laing time… The work of forgetting and suppression

Somewhere in the pile of things-read-awaiting-bookmarking-on-t’website is a recent article on the what the authors called “memory work” –  (corporate) work of suppressing past mis-behaviour. It does not use R.D. Laing, but it could.  This below is the epigram from Joanna Russ’s amazing book ‘The Female Man’ [my review here]

If Jack succeeds in forgetting something, this is of little use if Jill continues to remind him of it. He must induce her not to do so. The safest way would be not just to make her keep quiet about it, but to induce her to forget it also.

Jack may act upon Jill in many ways. He may make her feel guilty for keeping on “bringing it up”. He may invalidateher experience. This can be done-more or less radically. He can indicate merely that it is unimportant or trivial, whereas it is important and significant to her. Going further, he can shift the modality of her experience from memory to imagination: “It”s all in your imagination.” Further still, he can invalidate the content. “It never happened that way.” Finally, he can invalidate not only the significance, modality and content, but her very capacity to remember at all, and make her feel guilty for doing so into the bargain.

This is not unusual. People are doing such things to each other all the time. In order for such transpersonal invalidation to work, however, it is advisable to overlay it with a thick patina of mystification. For instance, by denying that this is what one is doing, and further invalidating any perception that it is being done, by ascriptions such as “How can you think such a thing 1” “You must be paranoid.” And so on.

Laing, R.D. 1967 The Politics of Experience. London: Penguin. (first chapter online here)

Thinking institutionally, dialectically, iteratively, recursively #noteasy

Our wetware has missed quite a few upgrades, hasn’t it?  It left the factory all buggy and in beta, shaped by encounters – over millennia – with sabre-tooth tigers etc that saw us as easy meat.  We have cognitive biases up the wazoo, and often lack even the awareness of that [Dunning-Kruger etc etc].

It’s only recently for me, when I’ve been trying to construct airtight arguments that synthesise a lot of other people’s work, that I realise quite what a kluge a brain is.  And how hard it is to think institutionally, dialectically, iteratively, recursively etc  (don’t ask me for the distinction between those last two – pregnant elephants or something).

Everything in our “DNA”, our educations, our culture(s) makes it easier to do system one thinking, and be happy, exp-post-facto-y with that….  Hmmm.

All this came from re-reading another excellent paper from Professor Thomas Lawrence, he of ‘institutional work’…  He has a good website, and it gives access to his papers, which is cool for people without a password through the paywalls…

Thinking institutionally, according to Heclo (2008), involves adopting an “appreciative viewpoint” that allows one to “acknowledge, and then through choices and conduct, . . . help realize some normative order reflected in the task of upholding (an) institution and what it stands for” (p. 102). This viewpoint, Heclo argues, provides individuals in contemporary civic society the capacity to think and act in ways that allow them to transcend the totalizing cognitive influence of institutions.

2011 Lawrence, T., Suddaby, R., &  Leca, B. 2011. Institutional Work: Refocusing Institutional Studies of Organization. Journal of Management Inquiry, 20(1), 52-58.