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Mitch SMith

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Is passion the mother of fashion?

It is clear to me that fashion is orders of magnitude more important to people than facts.

If that is given .. what is it that drives fashion?

Is it passion?

and if it is - what is it that triggers passion?

And how does this non-rational principle serve our survival?

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      Apr 24 2013: Many thanks!

      So we have another point of co-ordinates through the passion thing.

      But there are more desires than inclusion.

      The way it seems to be panning out is that our "desires" are intrinsic. Perhaps they demark boundaries or accentuations .. channels. We could codify them as attractors and be able to cope with the chaotic field which surrounds them.

      So having the more definable word "desire" can give us a field by which to test the correlation with "passion".

      For many people, these words are identical - but it may be better to divide them and regard their intersection.

      You observe that passion is derivative of desire - can you give an example? Or have a go at identifying the causal pathway between them? Just as a reference - what if my passion was stamp-collecting?
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          Apr 26 2013: Hmm tempting ..

          Here's a thing I like:

          Pat made a good honest straight-up post somewhere in here. He wrote a sentence in which he correlated "fashion" directly to "style". I'll digress slightly to say that "fashion" is a wilder word than "style" - fashion has the sense that it *just happens*, while "style" infers a vector: small gratification now - or greater gratification later - a thing related to "class"(social station - status). The word Style has more meaning to the scholar - a thing might be "stylized" - meaning "done in a tradition" .. or a repeated way - indicating a practicality ("no - don't think! It's not broken, don't fix it! Do it like dad did it.").

          Now here I am reminded by my brain (damn brain - inconvenient as always!) - fashion also means "to make".
          But we don't say that now. It is no longer the fashion.

          At this point, I have to anchor to experience.
          I make flutes .. little flutes .. I like these little flutes for their wildness. Unlike the insanely key-encrusted horrors that get played in orchestras (the etymology of that makes me larf) The little flute can go where the press-button sensibility of lazy people could never imagine. I once made one with pure gold metalwork - that was horrible - too much expectation for what is just a material - a waste of time. The guy who bought it later asked what the weight of gold was in it - so that he could sell it as gold. Bleh! waste of time. Gold sounds very good, but humans drown that goodness in lust. Thus gold is the cheapest thing - those who love it are one-night tarts for a penis. Which is less than 1% of a man.

          No. I sent my flutes to great players - after I had spent a great deal of time making sure that they were players who's music had power enough to turn my head. And here, "to-make" becomes the active principle. And I know these guys, because I talk to them. They do not "make" they just express - they express "fashion" they do not seek to make an advantage - in their music they do as I do.
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          Apr 27 2013: And .. if you think about it .. how easy it all is .. apart from a lot of legwork .. but comfort is not the real prize - in fact, it is comfort which wrecks us .. not a popular stance .. but seems true none the less .. for what it's worth - an opportunity to walk trumps a destination every time.
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          Apr 27 2013: By coincidence, A friend just reminded me of the phenomenon of "fame".
          Here is an interesting thing!
          From this discussion I am gaining a map of the tribe by virtue of the totem.
          Status seems to work as a measure of proximity to the totem.
          Fame works similarly - by virtue of attachment to a meme which is a component of the totem.
          So here's an interesting structure. Memes are, more often than not, un-harnessed expressions .. I think of the Zen poem told to the wind.
          Compare Van Gough to Elvis Presley - there is the difference between Zen expression and Contrived. Each created memes, the destination of fame/status was the goal of Presley, Van Gough was a schizophrenic who painted for the passion. Both gained totemic inclusion.
          What then of presidents of the USA? Their fame is not attached to a meme .. or is it?
          Criminals can also garner fame.
          In all, the alignment to the totem has value to mapping symbol-space.
          Also by following these threads through the totem, it yields its components - this is heartening! The components of the totem define its membrane and yield an understanding of "self" in the emergent sense.
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    Apr 23 2013: I continue to be willing to help, but it is difficult to keep track of where we are.

    Let us take you as an example, since you mentioned your focus on making instruments for people to play. It is significant that you had an earlier passion of playing professionally yourself- a different instrument. You have also sometimes suggested the choice of what you now do is also a choice of what you concluded you no longer wanted to do. So your choice is partly a reflection of what you want to be and partly what you don't want to be- an affirmation of one self option, negation of anothor.

    Some of this is about self definition. Some of self-definition is association with a category, because our brains organize understanding in categories.

    Now let's look at a layer between self definition and passion either for making music or making the makings of music. Inclination to make music is not just an ancient instinct but one not even peculiar to humans. But there are other inborn inclinations that could have risen to the level of passion as well that you haven't pursued- unless you believe that really there is a single thing within us meant to be our singular passion. I think not. I think there are many potential embers. Situations, including what happens to be enabled by the environment, becomes a bellows for some embers over others.

    Looking at yo-yo master, as he described his getting involved in yo-yo, he said he wanted to be good at something. Setting aside that we figure out rational explanations after the fact for what we have done (as our self-reflective capabilities are somewhat over-rated), are you thinking that wanting to be good at something and the flow and chemical effects within us that doing and improving in that thing provides are built into people as a means for connecting with a tribe that would enhance the likelihood of survival? Or might they be built in to affect directly the likelihood of survival without the mediating tribe? Tribe sufficient, not necessary?
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      Apr 24 2013: Hi Fritzie,

      Many thanks for engaging to this depth.

      OK.. key concepts:
      I enjoyed the insight of doing something that I decided not to do .. I'll think on that. But to flesh it out a bit, I left professional/commercial music because it was compromising my marriage - I was fairly successful at commercial stage performance. I went into technical support of live theatre as a side contribution to the passion that got me playing music in the first place, and continued to write songs for my own satisfaction - devoid of any audience and little chance of getting one. I went into corporate computing and found it to be a holiday - I could barely believe so much money was being payed for so much rubbish. In the end of that, my passion for the value I could bring to others was not welcome in the corporate sphere - they don't care about their customers - to them, they are sheep to be shorn and discarded when their usefulness expires.
      I did a lot in CRm - and it was actively hobbled by the directors, I did things for the warehouse workers, and that was hobbled becase it was too hard to account for - regardless of the productivity gains.

      So I left - I left society,, I left humanity and I left urbanity. Now - I use your scraps and live like a king. I make the best whistles in the world - such a small thing, and everyone else are trying so hard to be the best idiot, the best prostitute, the most wasteful ..

      Yes .. maybe they just want sex - but that is so easy. Or they want money, but that's a doddle, what they want is to be a part. Hard.

      Right now, I barely care. All that is a pool to just dip in when needed. I amuse myself here because it keeps my mind ticking over .. it tickles, and if the admins finally kick me out because I'm too wild .. well, there's farmers, sheep, sheepdogs and wolves - it's only wolves who are alive - the rest are liers.

      Passion and fashion .. I have observed them. I see all drowned in fashion, I see all in the search of passion.
      More wolves please
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        Apr 24 2013: I was not trying to probe your case specifically but to use it as a concrete sample for investigating aspects of your inquiry that relate 1)what interests people, 2)what they choose to do, 3)why they choose to do it- and specifically to what degree it is about the individual and what degree about tribe, and so forth.

        Many people believe that they are not motivated primarily by wanting to fit in but that others are. This situation raises the question to me of whether that view of the other as being primarily compelled by fashion or tribe may be an exaggeration that is itself part of the desire to establish an individual identity or uniqueness.
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          Apr 26 2013: Hi Fritzie, you caught me exaggerating - many thanks!
          Of course, not all are mired, in fact it might be said that no one is fully mired.

          OK .. by the numbers:

          1. What interests people. This might serve as an anchor-end for "passion". At the low end you could accurately pin it to "potential advantage". But there seems to be 3 departures from this starting point - firstly, the rational actor. This actor might respond to both self and community interests. Secondly, the actor may be responding to animal drives that compete with the assumed rationale. Thirdly is the "inspirational" (not sure if that's the right word) which does not seem to fit in the rational or animal .. although many try and end up with a force-fit called "industry" - but it is not contained.
          2. What they choose to do. Can we say - that one may choose to conform to fashion, or may be drawn by fascination? This is helpful - there is a clear boundary signifying the communal and personal - it also helps divide the rational and irrational by measure of "interests". Could we say that the fascination aspect of passion defines a division of rationality - where rationality is known "rationale" and irrational may be "rationale yet to become known"? Such a distinction might tie in to the adapted/adaptable properties required for survival.
          3. Why. OK, this is priorities, once again, not necessarily rational. I tend to think that the motive is complex - there are a lot of forces working on motive .. motive being the optimal choice within the field of potential agency - whether or not the choice is actually discharged into agency.

          It is very difficult to exclude the motive of tribal belonging. Although I have chosen to ignore parts of it, here I am writing - a tribal act. It might be pure vanity, but I feel the fascination of mapping symbol space from a different angle than dictionaries, grammars or philosophy.. there might be large advantages to that, but the curiosity component seems to stand alone.
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        Apr 26 2013: I was not suggesting that looking for belonging is a negligible factor. I was suggesting only that the common perspective may be to exaggerate the force of it in others and perhaps to underestimate the force in oneself.

        It is just something to keep an eye on. I sometimes notice people (not you) putting themselves forward as examples of lack of ego who seem to me to be absolutely staggering under the weight of ego and the desire for status.

        People know themselves less than they often think and know others less, perhaps, as well.
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          Apr 27 2013: Hi Fritzie,

          That's a great observation ...
          But you can't exclude me from it - I will take it as a personal caution - and I thank you!

          So I can build on it this way:

          There is a component of "self-image" which biases from "other-image" .. and you have observed that the self shouts "sheep! sheep!" as a bleating of a sheep.

          I will relate an experience .. I was on a railway platform .. here in Australia Railways are social capital - we use them and they are very cheap compared to the US or Britain .. which is astounding given the immense distances one mst travel in this desert-land .. another subject .. but there I was on a city railway platform .. we were off to the Olympics! at the new Olympic park carved from a toxic waste dump in the west of Sydney - there were no garbage bins because of the fear of bombs!! so we had to put all our scraps in a plastic bag we scrounged from the ground (where a lot of rubbish blew up against the fences).
          we were going to board the vintage steam train and were waiting for the electric shuttle to the old platform .. and just then over the PA one of the rail announcers started bleating "baaaaa .. baaa .. baaaa" .. most of us 200 or so on the platform started larfing .. for all sorts of reasons .. some were tickled by novelty, some were incensed at the affront .. for myself, I thought "hmm last day on the job .. a good excuse for honesty!" and larfed hard. The announcer's next job would be an improvement in his life! and that made me a gladness that I could not explain to anyone there. (forgive the self promotion there - I don't recommend it .. it's not all that useful) .. But in this instance it illustrates your point.

          I spent the last hour walking into town for supplies .. this was good, I have an injured knee that requires a lot of exercise sometimes and the walk was painful .. the sky is perfect blue, the weather is warm for autumn .. so I resolved to be in it and not in my head for the walk, regardless of the pain. Worth sharing
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    Apr 22 2013: Fashion is driven by the ping-pong-like exchange between trendsetters and trendspotters.
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      Apr 22 2013: Yes - to a large degree, that is how I have seen it work.

      But there has to be a mechanism .. some property of people that supports it.

      The trendsetters, trendspotters and trendmongers are merely following the veins of the fashion ore that exists in us. They are all constrained, and fall hard if they wander off the mother-lode.

      My question is how does all this relate to passion - and how is this important for our survival?
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    Apr 21 2013: Lovely rhyme Mitch! But no, profit drives fashion.
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      Apr 22 2013: Perhaps it is fashionable to believe that in the USA.
      But profit is only the predator of fashion.

      Mind you .. what kind of "profit" did you have in mind?
      Fashion appears to be irrational - but we have it. So it must have an advantage beyond our normal comprehension of rationality.

      I note that money is also an object of fashion.
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        Apr 22 2013: Belief ought to never be based upon what is fashionable. Thanks for the reminder. If the fashion industry (not the clothing industry, but the fashion industry) is suspended for 5-years what happens? Simple, people will wear the same clothes, heaven forbid, this year they wore last year and the year before. Purchasing new apparel every season, not because the things you have are no longer serviceable, but because the Madison Avenue propaganda drives you into a passionate frenzy to be in vogue is what makes fashion a VERY profitable business. What is the source of the passion and the frenzy? It is advertising, media hype, subliminal suggestion, and relentless appeal to human pride. The root cause of the continuing survival of the fashion (again, not clothing) industry is PROFIT. Fashion is not the victim and profit is not the predator. I think fashion is the predator and vanity is the victim. By the way, what is your rationale for stating that something irrational must have an advantage? And how is money an object of fashion? All is vanity! Thanks Mitch. Be well mate.
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          Apr 22 2013: Hi Edward,
          Good observations!
          The irrational may not have an advantage. But it is there and provokes curiosity.
          Certainly there is talk of the shortcomings of "the rational actor" in our assumptions.
          Specially in the field of economics.
          I think that the role of the irrational should be taken into account - and the dynamics of fashion/passion seem to fall into that gap. Discovering some underlying causality would help to mend our gaps.

          But I can't see how profit can escape the predator label.
          If we were to expand the notion of profit to include all forms of advantage, one can see it is essential to all of life .. but there seem to be limits to it's productive application.

          (edit: money as fashion? Well .. it does not exist beyond being a behaviour and we've been doing that dance for a while.)
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    May 4 2013: Interim update #2.

    This theme intersects with 2 other themes - policy and principle.

    Policy is adaptive, principle claims to be stable.

    There is a great deal of noise around the policy dimension .. it is very often confused with principle.
    And for good reason.
    Policy is noisy because it has a short context base, principle has a much wider temporal context .. for instance, one might have a policy of staying 1 meter away from a precipice - but the principle of gravity is not likely to change in a lifetime - if one falls off the cliff - gravity is assumed with a very low margin of error. When the wind blows strong, the policy of 1-meter will change to 2 .. or more .. very morphic .. very noisy . what if the wind is gusty?

    I am looking for the principle in fashion and passion - not the policy.
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    Apr 26 2013: Here's an interim mapping for Fashion - not complete, but may be useful:

    There are 2 main senses to the word: principle and instance.
    The principle describes a class of behaviour - it is the principle that is of interest here.
    I can give a sense of it by way of some instances:
    1. A wildebeest is in the midst of the herd stampeding northwards - the fact that those to the south are being driven by lions is not know to him - he follows the fashion, perhaps he feels exhilaration, not fear.
    2. A man is in a metal box proceeding at potentially lethal velocity along a long platform of toxic resin while the box emits more toxins into the atmosphere. His box is called "Mercedes" which earns him some deference and respect. He does not know why that is, but has committed his efforts for many years to come to be in this box right now.
    3. Some early automobiles included a material of resin bound hemp. Although a practical material, the substance is now feared.

    The principle of fashion is passive and communal. The active practice of inducing it for individual benefit probably has better words to describe it.
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      Apr 26 2013: Thanks Chris,

      I can't remember the subject - the interface does not send a CC.
      Sometimes I like to engage directly - the public forum constrains things a bit.
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      Apr 26 2013: Yes, this is an aspect which I think is important - mostly because it is the bit that seems to move outside of rationality.

      However, there are 2 sides to this phenomenon - there is certainly wisdom in identifying the pitfalls of passion - the "sins", but at the other end, I might invoke the passion of Christ and the quest for "virtue".
      It's all very well to say "do this, don't do that" but without knowing the spine, what good is knowing the nose or the tail? Those who come with imperatives bear them for their own vanity - or as burdens inflicted on them down the generations. I have my own burdens and vanity(part of the "mud") - it is best we know them, perhaps they serve us less than we assume.
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          Apr 27 2013: The last first and the first last:

          I would hope so Don .. it is a strange thing that we have this bridge - it is an unlikely one .. but a precious one for its rarity.

          I get this "soul and spirit" thing out of silence .. all which I focus upon is false and transient .. perhaps necessary, but it is the all, and the no-thing which answers all that I cannot calculate. Happy to be my little self - noisy as it is! And what silence does not answer crosses these unlikely bridges.

          I took great joy reading the Feynman book! Feynman reminds me so much of my elder brother - he went to the town garbage dump to rescue abandoned radios and rigged a vacuum-tube creation of his own by which he could morse-code messages with people in Russia .. and when the neighbours complained about TV interference from his huge antenna, the government inspector praised his work and told the neighours that their TV sets were faulty. My brother also blew large holes in the backyard with home made explosives .. unfortunately, the ingredients are no longer available from chemists - you have to go to miners for that stuff now. All is open, nothing prevents our doom apart from empathy. And this is the gift of humans to the world - we have nothing else it wants.
          Feynman, Einstein, Rutherford and Dalton(I know his grand-daughter - wonderful human!) they are all bomb-makers - as are you and I.

          I walked today to be here .. and for a few moments I was.

          We calculate each other endlessly .. and always, we are correct for a few hours or days, but the years own us - we are small in the face of them.

          I see that we humans have been treding a road without feeling our feet .. here I choose a few words that I know in my heart and ask .. what are these words? At one time they paid my rent .. as a professional musician, it was my study - and I did OK .. not famous, but proficient - my band had more work than any other band in the country at that time. I learned how to make a tribe, how to play the rules - shape.
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          Apr 27 2013: THese words.

          we use them all the time and we haven't a clue what we are saying .. we just assume .. and somehow, those close to us understand what these words mean .. enough to get things done. But none of us really have the foggiest clue what our utterances do on impact with the ears of others. We swim in vague waters, and .. just so long as the result appears within a statistical significance, we put on the laurels and claim certain victory.

          The Buddha once said that all evil is done by certain knowledge . and I agree - nothing is certain, all is assumption, and I'd like to help us small slime-moulds get closer to the actual truth. step one is to stop assuming and start looking.
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      Apr 24 2013: Hi Don,

      This is very helpful!

      OK - from your observations I can attempt to build this way:

      There are 2 very important items:
      1. The intersection of tradition and passion (religion).
      2. This one is hard to articulate - I can see it, taste it, feel it .. it is when you "KNOW" that point at which there is no shadow of a doubt - you know .. you CAN do, you are 100% accurate - but unfortunately, you cannot convince a soul - except by demonstration - but still no one believes, they just count the brownie points of reputation - they will listen to others, not you. This is the singularity which draws true passion - all these things of sex and food and power and inclusion all fall away - they become granted, because that place is supreme.

      Fashion then, gets known as those who have no passion whatsoever, but can observe results - and harness the passionate - this is quite cogent. While in the music "industry" I observed that few masters of music were recognised and most died poor - that it was the peripheral parasites who were the industry. Similar in religion where you find few Christians who actually know Christ - but know how to make the shape with their mouth enough to get the money .. or sex .. or inclusion from others who also do not know - but wish they did.

      TRue passion is that which exceeds these small things - I call it the mud, because it is all around us and glues us down - we regard it, it is all we see. Then the instant we move to exceed it, it falls away, it no longer glues, but we can no longer regard it. This is true passion - the mud is the fashion.

      Now, I would be glad to get these insights codified in more concrete language - but without a spec of mud on it. Hence the topic.
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          Apr 26 2013: Hi Don,

          This is useful - very.

          Your definition ring-fences the subject words (passion/fashion) into an intersection set where they overlap with the "industry" word.

          And yet "industry" does not entirely encompass "fashion/passion" ..
          I have not fully dismissed the religion aspect - it is recognised and at one side for now.

          You can see we are now gathering a collection of associated sets - each of which have intersection with our theme. Here is where I'm coming from:

          Over 10 years ago I got interested in what I call "symbol-space" and had a mind to start drawing a map for it. To date, we have had a lot of scholars sifting through experience and evidence of language in various forms, psychologists and fortune tellers mapping dreams. My approach is to acknowledge all that and begin tracing what goes in and out of words - their associations. For, although we regard the grammar and structure of our use of symbols, we do not observe the content. We are fixated on the chisel and have not laid eyes on the wood.

          I might appear to some as crazy, frivolous or false. But my own regret is that this long standing work can only be done in-between the exigencies of life - it's low on the Maslow pyramid and any time I spend on it is at the expense of those more pressing needs. And yet I do it. Although, sometimes I look at my computer and say .. not today, the engagement falls too often into blank gregariousness .. the enjoyment of company. But there is a value to be had - if not for me, then these people I regard - and their children.

          These words fashion and passion have prominence in our behaviours - they serve as a good example for the mapping. Something useful to compliment the dictionary and rules of grammar. As it stands, we orbit our words without landing .. perhaps we never will, but we might, at least, locate them in symbol-space. This may help correct skews in world-views - the maps we each construct without knowing.
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      Apr 24 2013: This is helpful in one aspect:

      The conflicting objectives of stability and novelty.

      This certainly does have influence on the topology of "passion".

      I would warn anyone following the link to take a wider view than just the sexual component - Esther Perel remains on a narrow focus - it goes way beyond that. And be careful - the untrained can become trapped - and if one is able, that becomes an important skill - how to observe and overcome "titillation". This is a barrier for humans.

      Many thanks Don, this gives me opportunity to show that passion has very little to do with sex. sex is only one entry point.
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      Apr 23 2013: Well,
      If I'm right, agreement will be part of the outcome ..
      Thus far, agreement is limited by tribe-size .. as much as I can see it.
      Humans seek to evolve beyond the 200 or so that we were adapted for before the Younger Dryas.
      But since we have totally changed the framework in which that occurred, hey .. it's get this right or wait for cockroaches to have another go in 2 or 3 million years.

      Does that matter?

      To humans maybe.

      The further you go out, the less important that is.

      As a human .. my vanity gives me passion ;)
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      Apr 22 2013: Many thanks Don,

      Can you see a correspondence between this "little sin" and passion?

      I know this all sounds hopelessly semantic, but getting clarity in our symbology is as important as the blurred mathematics that Feynman so detested in school books on the "new math".

      I discern a structure in the confluence of fashion and passion - I do not know it yet, and I don't claim this as science.

      Such things as your observation of "a little sin" in the practice of fashion may give us insight into what is actually contained in the words fashion and passion.

      What's your take?
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          Apr 23 2013: Hi Don,
          Here's the thing:
          This is a question about words that we commonly use.
          We all assume that we know what we are saying and what others are hearing, but a lot of the time we are far from the mark.
          This gives rise to an inexactitude of language - it is this inexactitude that snags my interest - I codify it as "noise" which I relate to "error".

          So here we have 2 words that seem extremely noise-prone - "passion" and "fashion"and yet, one can observe an interplay in the concepts hidden in all the fluff surrounding them. They have behavioural outcomes vital to people's lives - the example of Black is one good case in point.

          Part of my inquiry is to poll the noise. The different entry-points demonstrated by the contributors here is a gauge to the breadth of the noise.

          You will know that I will apply my results to neural network dynamics. More exactly to the transformation of data to information - and a better definition of another important word: self.
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          Apr 23 2013: Hi Don,

          OK .. let's say that "mother" stands for "cause". THis was my intention - but, the notion of "mother" has a wider meaning than "causality".

          In that frame, you can see that this discussion has already gotten some clarity on the question "does passion *cause* fashion?"
          By Fritzie's insight - no it doesn't. It might even be the other way around - that fashion might cause passion. But there is evidence that there is co-causal dynamics as well as corellation - indicating, perhaps a third causality..

          What we have gotten so far is that fashion is an intrinsic part of the "totem" which is the tribal definition. tribes are damn important for humans - and we can see that fashion is very important for tribal formation.
          We can also see that passion is a vector for moving towards the totem - and also of defining it.

          This is happy days for me - because I am interested in selves and what membrane encloses any particular self - fashion is definitely a component of the tribal membrane.
          Passion is definitely a factor in how close to the totem any participating individual is.

          Niose.

          well, noise is not just to be eliminated - it indicates the dimensions in which any particular symbol operates - and that is important to understanding how we evolved to work within it. And why.

          Sin.

          You run the risk of having a linear miscalculation and failing to perceive the breakpoint at which sin becomes virtue.
          However, if you are right, my passion to deliver great musical instruments to great players, makes me the agent of satan - along with everyone else who's passion delivered our lives - and if that is so - we are doomed.

          I am more inclined to think that diminished returns operates as a chaotic curve - all things occur on an exponential "hump" - we cannot know where on the hump the outcome will go, but we can know the shape of teh "hump" and we can discern which side of the hump any outcome falls - the trick is to discern the turning-point .. the nadir around which we orbit.
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          Apr 23 2013: "Mother" causal principle.
          "Passion": along with :fashion: is here as a subject of interpretation - I can have a go at the consensus when the discussion terminates.

          If I had exact definitions for the primary subject - why would I start this conversation?
          I would already know, and inquiry would be false.
          This inquiry is not false.

          I asked the question - what is your answer?
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          Apr 23 2013: On "what does the pushing"?

          This has been advanced by Pat - and is also part of the inquiry. We assume it has something to do with survival.

          The dialogue has progressed a little to "survival of what"?

          I have advanced that the membrane defined by the totem encloses the object of survival .. you could say the "self" which exerts to organise .
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      Apr 22 2013: Flagged - off topic.
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          Apr 22 2013: Hi Don,

          Well taken.

          I am more than happy to conduct your line of reasoning in another thread or by private discussion. But I am truly interested in the topic at hand. These themes have been in my life as far as I can remember, and the contributors are really helping - and I hope gaining value in return.

          Mitch
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          Apr 22 2013: Who knows if this work is good?
          at the least, it is sincere.
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    Apr 22 2013: what is style or fashion?

    It is whatever people agree it is.

    Why does that matter?

    Because people want to be attractive

    Why does that matter?

    Because attractive = survival

    Why does that matter?

    Because above all else the purpose of life is to survive
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      Apr 22 2013: I agree,

      The link between attractive and survival is not so well understood .. there is some work, but much of it fails to explain seemingly superfluous ritual and display. The bazar rituals and plumage of birds being one example.

      In humans the link seems even more arcane - we have the added dimension of social emergence (safety in numbers etc). Also status comes into play to determine who gets bumped off the table in times of scarcity.
      But .. does one's skill at a yo-yo have rational advantage? I'll assume it does at some level .. and it's fun exploring the distinction.
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    Apr 21 2013: Mitch, what do you mean here by fashion? For example, is talking about and seeking "a passion" an example of what you mean by fashion, because it is so common these days to talk about and seek "passions?" Is meme fashion?
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      Apr 21 2013: Hi Fritzie,

      Good questions! (as always).

      What is fashion? How is it related to "meme"?

      We observe that we are prone to irrational behaviours, seemingly for the sake of novelty or status. By irrational, I mean the expenditure of effort for no discernible advantage beyond being accepted in the group.

      The case in point is Black's yo-yo mastery. I remember when yo-yos became fashionable .. it was soon after the hula-hoop thing .. the difference being that the yo-yo was harnessed by the coca cola company as a propaganda vector.
      So there are 3 aspects already -
      1. group identity, the totem.
      2. mastery as status within the totem
      3. the totem as a vector of social manipulation.

      This suggests that fashion is the mother of passion .. but is this always so? In the case of Black, the yo-yo totem is long dead .. it has become more tradition than fashion. Here is where I get interested:
      Back in the day, I had a passion for rock'n'roll guitar and turned it into a career. It was very much a current fashion - and the art of it was anticipation of what the audience would choose .. it had little to do with musical skill. In the last few years, I found a passion for the pennywhistle and developed the craft of making them to a level of mastery - I had almost no care for the popularity of it. In this I feel a kinship with Black.

      Passion is not something to "seek" we find it under our nose and it takes us away.

      I can see that the notion of "meme" fits in there somehow - it seems to represent the irrational "hook" part of fashion - separate from the totem aspect .. indeed, in rock'n'roll .. we spoke of the need for "hooks" in our song-writing.

      What else fits in to this? I discern some kind of structure.

      This is somewhat important in the current age of the internet - we are massively susceptible to the phenomenon and need to develop clear understanding of it. For instance, last year it was fashionable to accept the end of the world in December 2012. This kind of thing is dangerous
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        Apr 22 2013: You look young, Mitch, to remember the hay-day of the hula hoop. I somehow missed yo-yo's having a connection to Coca Cola.

        I agree with your statement that passion finds you, but you have likely noticed how often we see threads here opened by people who very much want to find, and have not yet found, a passion and ask people how they found theirs. It has become a goal in our time, I think, to have a passion. The ubiquitous use of the word arose with Tom Peters, didn't it?

        I am not convinced that people's primary motivation is to be accepted by the group in the sense that they want to do whatever makes them fit in, even if it is not authentic for them. I know many people believe this to be true of others, but don't include themselves as having that tendency.

        I do think people want to find a meaningful role for themselves in some setting, often a role connected to their uniqueness rather than to their conformity.

        I know playing rock and roll guitar was a popular hobby in the day, but I always thought its appeal was based on the way people recognized it, and grabbed onto it, as a way of creating music that had a "low entry barrier." That is, people did it not because others did but because they saw they could at low cost and without much training. They could not reach the professional level you did, of course, but I think it tapped into the ancient appeal of making music.
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          Apr 22 2013: Hmm - that's a pre-beard photo.

          I remember the schoolyard behaviours with the bright coloured plastic hoops and all the twirling contortions required to get them spinning. In days before me, I am told that hoops were cane and were rolled with a stick, not twirled.
          The yo-yos began to appear - they were, by and large badly made and could do no more than just go up and down - until the coca cola yo-yos turned up - these were far better - nicely balanced and could slip at the bottom of the stroke - making for all the clever tricks. The brand name was prominent, and coca cola sponsored competitions covered in the main media. After a while, the other Amatil brands started appearing on them - same yo yo, different add - Fanta, and other soda styles - a classic cultural hijack.

          This Tom Peters fellow .. well, he's nothing. He is just a small part of the overall cultural hijack. I am glad he got run-through for sloppy research. He and his ilk were rampant during the insane ascendency of modern slavery. The big consultancies were keen to exploit the removal of decency inflicted by Regan and Thatcher - scientific rigor was put to one side as excuses for exploit were peddled at a million dollars a pop in the name of business process re-engineering - amongst these, the only one of any real import was the Maverick model, and even that got horribly distorted to become the worst of social totalitarianism.

          No, passion was quite known and respected - Peters just re-packaged and peddled it - with all the nutrient content suitably extinguished.. You will note that the customer was kept close only in order to shove blame on them, and dump them into the externalities bin.

          The commercial totem-factory delivers what we expect - not what we want.

          I suppose this false notion of passion is now being mistaken as real - something that you can buy in shrink-wrap.

          So .. OK - we now have to figure the aspects of needs/wants/expectation into the fashion/passion confluence .. more structure!
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        Apr 22 2013: Oh, I know passion has long been known and respected! it is a certain way of talking about it that became, as you might say, fashionable. At least in the US. I don't know about Australia.
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          Apr 22 2013: Yes here too.
          Macdonalds looks the same in every country ;)

          But it is useful as a stable vantage point.

          My opinion of corporate involvement aside, I'm still interested in the interplay between fashion and passion. So far you have convinced me that I had it backwards to some extent - that passion does not cause fashion, nor that fashion causes passion.
          But, if something exists as a fashion, it can be the medium of a passion, and that the demonstration of someone's passion may influence a fashion.
          You introduce "memes" as an aspect of it.
          The breadth of media seems also a part - Macdonalds being a good example of one aspect. Perhaps nyan cat being at the other extreme?
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        Apr 22 2013: I just looked up nyan cat, never having heard of it.

        Could you restate your question now? Are you now asking what makes something take hold as a fashion?
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          Apr 23 2013: That might be one outcome.

          But the question is the examination of interplay between fashion and passion - and possible survival outcomes driving the interplay.

          The "totem" aspect is fruitful to examine - as Pat said "we agree". And this seems a main parameter of fashion .. but even when you consider the mutual advantages of agreement, there are still limits to what will be agreed upon. So yes, the topology of these limits will be, as you say, "what makes something take hold as a fashion".
          Now, there seems to be a vector into this "fashion" medium by which passion can navigate - Black demonstrated how his passion gave him egress into the benefits of fashion. And the audience agreed.

          But consider other things labelled "passion" .. what if Black had a passion for stamp collecting? Or something less-than-neutral such as bombing pedestrians?
          We may also consider that a passion might be aligned with intrinsic "drives" such as gastronomy or erotica.

          I'll stay with the totem theme for a bit - clearly passion has intersection with fashion, but is not fully contained there - so to leave that aside for a moment, the totem seems to have 2 axes - inclusion and status. Inclusion requires definition and fashion provides this - right down to the language used within it.
          And here is where I can connect notions of Bayesian convergence - the noise-reduction process of familiarity. This is something which occurs within perception - information, rather than data. The basis of "agreement" perhaps?
          Status works within that frame.