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Thread: either/or versus plus/and

  1. #1
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    Default either/or versus plus/and

    ****warnining****this one could get a little abstract****warning*****

    Noticed a bit of musico-philosophical mini-meme in circulation

    Matos had this blogriff on my "where you're at/where you're from" blogriff, in the course of which he declared:

    “For a lot of us in the [pro-camp], it went without saying that plus/and trumps either/or as a guiding principle..."

    and on the Other Board someone else said something like "either/or is for chumps"

    and then in the M.I.adonnaHonda/"we aren't living in a black-and-white world, so I ain't no black-and-white girl" thread, another person was decrying Either/Or logic.

    Two's a coincidence, three's a trend!

    Now is this notion--"plus/and" > "either/or"--some sort of well-established philosophical distinction i'm not conversant with? It has a tang of Logic about it.

    Anyway, it struck me as having a lot of applications and get to the nub of certain dissenssions and debates abroad at the moment

    Strip away the actual details of any given argument and you'll find people divided into Either/Ors or Plus/Ands -- Clear Vision versus Subtle Shades .... or to revert to more loaded terms, fanatics versus dilettantes

    Both sets of adherents, interestingly, would claim that their proposition is closer to the True Nature of Reality.

    For instance, the Plus/And argument is that the world's is a complex place, not black and white, don't simplify the issues, polyvalent, etc etc

    The Either/Ors would argue: actually no, in real real life, you're constantly faced with stark choices, from the mundane (which entree on the menu) to the profound (love; career -- for most people it's impossible to be a doctor AND a lawyer,; politics--you can't vote Republican AND Democrat, and so forth).

    Being emotionally of an Either/Or bent (while still having, i hope, the mental suppleness to see the Plus/And, Subtle Shades aspects of things), I would tend towards polarising things, while seeing the opposite stance as "having your cake and eating it" or not taking a stand

    This also has applications to the whole music consumption issue.

    Plus/And is the logic of downloading. When there's no cost and no limit to your storage capacity, there is simply no earthly reason to desist from the "and... and ... and..." imperative. Illegal downloading has removed music from the scarcity economy.

    Plus/And is the logic of the all-you-can eat salad bar.

    Which i understand only too well, being the kind of person who will load up the plate with a little bit of everything, making myself bloated and nauseous in the process

    Either/Or though is the logic of difficult choices in a scarcity economy
    -- of having X amount of allowance to spend on records
    --- of skipping a meal to buy a record (something i've never done i hasten to add, although you always hear people claiming to have done this)

    I would say that the world still largely operates on a scarcity economy

    and that moreover Life itself is a scarcity economy, you've only got so much time/energy, hence the Aesthetic Morality of Finitude

    Finally i would say that Either/Or is a logic of intensification, whereas Plus/And is an addititive logic

    Both have their downsides obviously

    Either/Or, taken to the extreme, becomes narrow-minded

    Plus/And, which seems to becoming the dominant principle of culture in the sense of there being so many options, choices, information, etc, tends to promote a kind of super-sated indifference, in the precise sense of differences not mattering -- entropy -- and also a kind of self-erasing open-ness
    Last edited by blissblogger; 14-10-2005 at 05:52 PM.

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    ergo, concordantly, vis-ŕ-vis.....
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    Quote Originally Posted by blissblogger
    Now is this notion--"plus/and" > "either/or"--some sort of well-established philosophical distinction i'm not conversant with? It has a tang of Logic about it.

    ...

    For instance, the Plus/And argument is that the world's is a complex place, not black and white, don't simplify the issues, polyvalent, etc etc

    The Either/Ors would argue: actually no, in real real life, you're constantly faced with stark choices, from the mundane (which entree on the menu) to the profound (love; career -- for most people it's impossible to be a doctor AND a lawyer,; politics--you can't vote Republican AND Democrat, and so forth).
    But isn't it exactly the complexity of the world that makes the choices choices? If there wasn't all these shades and angles, you probably wouldn't even have to think about what you were doing.

    As for logic, either/or is logic, and complexity is the "real world". To be able to make the nice and clean either/or-distinctions, you'll have to define some borders in the mess of the real world. I suppose that's what critics and theorists do most of the time; trying to make sense of something not really following our personal aesthetic rules, trying to create a system where it all fits.

    Eventually, I think there's an inherent value jugdement in calling the complexity-position plus/and. Now, I'm a complexity-man, but I'm certainly not a plus/and-man. Recognizing that the world is full of grey areas is, I think, a necessary step if you're going to make useful theories. But that doesn't mean that you'll have to indulge in everything. And it actually seems to me that either/or is the irresponsible/lazy position, choosing not to deal with things being messy and problematic, a kind of I know what I like and I'm staying with that, thank you-position. The us or them, with or against, good vs evil etc postion.

    You could also put it this way: either/or is the idealist position, complexity is the pragmatic one. I think it's best to have a bit of each, but then, that's allready complexity.

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    Interesting!

    Isn't the marking-off of such an axis, or pair of axes, itself a deeply Either/Or-ish sort of thing to do? I mean the evidence is there, certainly, but still.

    Think I'm very much an Either/Or person, with probably (okay, definitely) a lot less of the flexibility/openness of the Plus/And axis than I could use, but I reach for it when I can.

    Then again, on the Plus/And tip, I've illegally downloaded a lot of music in the past year and a half, JUST BECAUSE I COULD. Predictably the amount of it that means fuck-all to me -- that I find myself even capable of enjoying -- is proportionally small. The real, and very significant to me, payoff is that quite a large percentage of the stuff I end up really liking is well outside of anything I ever would've bought or even paid attention to in the Era Before Illegal Downloading -- hello Boredoms, Mountain Goats, Amerie!

    It occurs to me that there are opinions, tastes, worldviews that seem Plus/And-ish on the face of them but are in fact profoundly Either/Or-ish, but for whatever reason wish to deny or conceal that aspect. No doubt the reverse also happens. (I am of course incapable of adducing any examples.)

    The crux seems to be deciding which sort of stance is more useful and illuminating ("and/or", ha, fun, god forbid) in a given set of circumstances.

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    "I welcome the problems and exploit the uncertainties. By embracing contradiction as well as complexity, I aim for vitality as well as validity." "I like elements which are hybrid rather than "pure," compromising rather than "clean," distorted rather than "straightforward," ambiguous rather than "articulated," ... redundant rather than simple; inconsistent and equivocal rather than direct and clear." ... "I am for richness of meaning rather than clarity of meaning ... A valid architecture evokes many levels of meaning ... its elements become readable and workable in several ways at once."

    -from "Robert Venturi's Complexity and Contradictions in Architecture, 1966

    these statemements more or less kicked off post-modernism in architecture...they also sound like sound bites from various electronic music debates over the last several years...it's interesting how this "richness of meaning" translates into much better music than buildings...(the first few waves of po-mo architecture, at least, alienated all but the historically literate with mega-esoteric referencing w/o a hint of Mannerist charm)...

    anyway, architecture being "frozen music" and all, I'm always interested in the overlaps...

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    Dualism is a convenient pitfall of language.

    Its only when we stop counting the leaves that we enjoy the shade of the maple tree.

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    Good spotting of the trend. You're right, I think this goes to the heart of a lot of debates.

    I'm a plus / and, e-prime, zetetic / model agnostic kind of guy both by emotional temperament and intellectual (self) training.

    And right now I'm bathing in the glow of experiencing loads of tearing ragga jungle at a fantastic club night last night, and everything is beautiful.
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    They said to him, "Then shall we enter the (Father's) kingdom as babies?"

    Jesus said to them, "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom]."

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    will come back to this when I have more time. for now I will just say:

    the biggest proponent for Either/Or thinking is (you know what's coming next don't you?) -

    George Bush.

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    Yeah, I was going to say binary masquerades behind a mask of righteousness, which in turn explains how society becomes so twisted, because the dark has to balance the contradiction and shortcomings of the supposed light. People focus, or pretend to be one, at the expense of the other, which leads to the peverse, distorted forms and modes behind the scenes.

    Binary in extreme is like grey matter taken to an intensity, and then simplified out of context, so that it loses the entirety of its meaning.

    But I went for maple trees and jesus instead, because thats happier.
    Last edited by DJ PIMP; 14-10-2005 at 09:47 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bleep
    Its only when we stop counting the leaves that we enjoy the shade of the maple tree.
    a man after me own heart... if I didn't have someone already...

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    Quote Originally Posted by confucius
    a man after me own heart... if I didn't have someone already...
    Why would you even think that if you weren't looking for someone else?

    Or have I misinterpreted what you did not say?

  13. #13

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    My take on it is that I think that the either/or is in decline. This is a difference to the history of recorded music to date.

    But, perhaps what's happening is a widening of the either/or to one limited by time instead of by identification or cost. Why is plus/and in the accendace? Because plus/and becomes more possible for more people in a digital age. A digital copy is easier and through P2P or iTunes, Bleep etc the plus/and becomes a realistic possiblity for something that was previously only possible for people with a lot of money or people who had the opportunity to listen to the large amount of different kinds of music through their job - the music journalists.

    Everyone of course has the one limit in far how they can take the plus/and route - time. So much of modern marketing to this audience is about the classic money rich, time poor dichotomy and even those with the opposite condition I would say are exposed to more music because the cheapness of digital music (shades of Oscar Wilde) mean that we are exposed to so much more music, so much more diverse music than before. So no one anymore cannot see the links that provide part of the joy with the both/and narrative.

    There is however a downside. In the last ten years or so we've seen a decline in music based youth cultures. Because there is so much choice there is less room to hermetically over focus on a particular niche and create subcultural meaning for groups that become a cult with its own rituals, dress, slang etc. These things still exist but to continue to have subcultural meaning they must resist codification/vocalisation and therefore significance because to do so in a digital culture(which is an intensification of existing media) would mean commoditisation because the costs of establishing subcultural capital have fallen so significantly.

    Therefore the kind of nebulousness of both/and becomes percieved as a more valid stance because of its diversity it can't be commodified in the same terms. It does become commodity, but as the degree zero everyone believes in which makes it harder to percieve as there is no or, no other in such a system to compare to - everything becomes and.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bleep
    Or have I misinterpreted what you did not say?

    oh no... I've just sent a link of this thread to my girlfriend, because it's an interest of hers... and for her to find me flirting with another man online... she already knows of this boy from the office who is... how shall I put it... extra nice to me...

    let's just nip this in the bud: what I said was purely a figure of speech and bleep, you are very nice and smart (and I'm sure very cute), but I have no interest at this time to pursue any kind of relationship besides a platonic exchange of ideas on this forum.

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    pm me.

    KIDDING! JUST KIDDING!!! TOTALLY JOKING!!!!!

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