Philosophy Tuesday

I’ve spoken a number of times before about the amazing power in apologies (including and especially in relation to a particular movie that I hold in great regard).  And apologies do indeed hold great potential for healing and to create wonderous new possibilities.

As long as they are actual, true, authentic, apologies.

So there are good reasons to examine the flip side:  the disingenuous and bad faith apology.  Or, as I like to call them, non-apology apologies.*  Because they’re kind of everywhere right now showing up in all sorts of places – media personalities, well-published authors, supreme court justice nominees, CEOs, presidents of certain countries, and police union spokespeople.  And they tend to follow this particular pattern and strategy, known by its acronym of DARVO:  Deny (or Deflect), Attack, and Reverse Victim & Offender.

It’s pretty much what it says on the tin.  Whatever comes in, deny it happened in all sorts of colourful terms, or, as an alternate, deflect it onto something else (the common “whattaboutism” fallacy).  Then attack, either the person, their credibility, or just something else entirely.  Make up false stats and statements, have people question their own sanity, call the kettle black, and etc.

But the last one is the one that really stands out, where the polarity of things is attempted to be reversed.  Suddenly the injured party is the one at fault, and the offender is now the victim of everyone’s mean words.**  Never mind what the issue – and let’s not forget, the harm – is, no, the real thing we should be talking about is how terrible it is for me.  That’s the strategy.  It’s all a smokescreen to distract from the harmful actions, results, and culpability, all while attempting to gain sympathy by making everyone else the bad guy or gal.

This is the very opposite of an apology, to be sure.  Often it is quite blatant (or at least becomes blatant once we’ve armed ourselves with this DARVO distinction so we can be mindful and see it when it’s being employed) and other times it is more subtle, slipped in between an “I apologize” type statement that, when considered in full, is doing anything but.***

Apologies (and forgiveness) are sacred and beautiful things, the mark of a truly powerful, strong, generous, and self-assured person.  DARVOing is the poisonous opposite, that furthers harm, stokes conflict, and erodes trust.  Being mindful of this tactic, we can avoid falling for it and not let slide what shouldn’t.

 

* And if I can just single out the one type I find most egregious in this non-apology apology trend is the “I apologize if anyone was actually offended” and its close variation “I apologize if I hurt someone.”  This is such absolute caca!  Neither of them takes ownership or responsibility or show any remorse, or even semblance of conception that their behaviour (and therefore them) is the or at issue.  It’s all foisted upon everyone else.  Especially in that first one, which effectively says “I think you’re all lying or wrong, and fk you all, I am perfect, and I’m the real victim here because you all suck.”  It’s DARVO par extreme.  Ugh!

** Which is another tactic that grinds my gears.  “That’s not the right way to express it…” tactic to divert attention from the actions/behaviour/world view/etc that caused harm – or is ongoingly causing harm – and instead turn the conversation about how it is expressed and oh how unfair it is that you are so mean to me.  Even worse when the person refuses to articulate what the appropriate means might be… but it’s all diversionary BS to avoid the real conversation about the very real harm.

*** Some of the recent examples of this can be kind of funny especially when you take the transcript or the statement and do word counts to see how often they mention themselves instead of others, how often they say sorry instead of unfair or cancel or my life has been hell, and the like.  No surprise, it’s more about how terrible it is for them than anything about being present to the impact their actions had or are having.

Architecture Monday

With my brain being a bit on the fritz, a good book is what the hypothetical doctor ordered.  And this wonderful library in Muyinga, Burundi fits the bill for a lovely place to grab and read a book.

There’s a lot of from local culture and the conditions of the site that went into this building, used in a great way that are both functional and fanciful.  Right from the start you can see it in the locally-fabricated compressed earth block masonry which allows the building to match rich colour of the surrounding earth and tree trunks.  There is a rhythm to the high-buttressed walls, each perforated to allow for light and cross-ventilation, and that further extends into the generous covered walkway.  At night, the whole assemblage glows like a lantern.

Inside, it just gets downright sweeter.  It’s lofty and inviting, with a great connection to the outdoors and steps that become bookshelves.  But the piece de resistance is the hammock suspended overhead… what a great reading nook!

I love it.  A great example of learning from the vernacular, using and building skills in the community, and creating a wonderful space through straightforward good design and a few touches of whimsy.  Great stuff.

The Library of Muyinga by BC Architects

Philosophy Tuesday

As I’ve noted here before, there is great clarity that comes from comparing who we proclaim ourselves to be (or to be about), and looking at what our actions, or the results thereof, say about what’s ACTUALLY going on.  And what’s going on right now is really showing us a very stark view of how authorities view and treat people, to the tune of 422+ incidents of overreach, brutality, and aggression* that have hurt, injured, and even killed people they supposedly swore an oath to protect.

And with that comes a hard look at how we let things get to this point.  And what to do about it.  Be ready, for the tactics and fallacies are going to get deployed real fast, in thick clouds (and yes, that imagery is not chosen by accident), trying to excuse these actions.

Especially when it may be coming from within.  So let’s look at one of these fallacies in detail, because by doing so we can both recognize it when being deployed against us, and moreover inoculate ourselves from ourselves, from our own internal monologues that may also attempt to dismiss, or minimize, some of all that is going on.  And it is the No True Scotsman fallacy:

“No true Scotsman, or appeal to purity, is an informal fallacy in which one attempts to protect a universal generalization from counterexamples by changing the definition in an ad hoc fashion to exclude the counterexample. Rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original claim, this fallacy modifies the subject of the assertion to exclude the specific case or others like it by rhetoric, without reference to any specific objective rule – “no true Scotsman would do such a thing”; i.e., those who perform that action are not part of our group and thus criticism of that action is not criticism of the group.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman] **

This is, of course, nicely related to the “few bad apples” trope that is so readily trotted out.  (which, by the way, notice A) always only seems to get applied to one side of someone’s preferred group, ie, “our side has only a few bad apples, while the other side I am more than willing to tar with a broad brush and apply a single action/trait to degrade a whole group, and B) ignores that the complete saying is “one bad apple spoils the barrel.”)  But my own variant of it comes in this form:

“No climber/paintballer would ever steal my wallet.”

This comes from my days of playing paintball and, later, going to climbing gyms.  There were times where there were no lockers available, or place to stash something, or should I lock my car, or any of those kind of moments… and my mind would head straight into that fallacy:  “Well, I’m a good person, and I am a paintballer, so therefore paintballers are good, and besides, I’ve met a bunch of them, and they seem all like fun friendly people, so clearly I’ve got nothing to worry about…”  The same went for climbers.  “We’re all cool dudes and dudettes, all is safe.”

Fortunately for me, my wallet, or anything else, was never stolen.  But I’ve known others who have had things “walk away” in those kinds of situations, and I’ve been overcharged or otherwise tricked by paintballers and climbers alike.

This is a great example of what’s known as “positive bias” – instances of our hidden prejudices that favour those we have an affinity for, or an identity towards.  This quick piece on NPR is a great primer.

With these biases we can so easily deceive ourselves.  Especially as often we will do anything to avoid something uncomfortable.  Or to avoid a new truth that challenges us and our reality and our identities.  And this fallacy is an easy one to reach for.

But eating bitter is where true growth can happen.

 

* Keep scrolling in that thread — it’s a long list to get to 422+.  There’s also a spreadsheet here:  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1YmZeSxpz52qT-10tkCjWOwOGkQqle7Wd1P7ZM1wMW0E/edit#gid=0  All noted and saved for posterity, so that it cannot be forgotten or denied.

** Also, if you aren’t familiar with all of the logical fallacies, they are mightily powerful to learn about.  Here’s one site that does it in a lighthearted fashion:  https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/  and the more extensive wiki article:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

Architecture Monday

It’s no big secret that I love rough, rich, exposed textural brick (yet I am way less of a fan of brick veneer, curiously).  I also love clean lines and careful attention to detail that punches through to both accentuate and punctuate.

All of which is why this house is such a delight for me, for it has all the above in spades.  A clean plastered box on the outside with an equally clean standing seam roof, it turns into a rich delight on the inside with its exposed brick and equally exposed wood roof framing above.  Thick steel frames jut out in several places, creating entryways and window porticos.

While using few elements the diversity in feeling for each space within is great.  There’s plenty to love in here, but my favourite has to be the office /bedroomwith the ladder-accessible loft.

Very nicely done.  House V by Martin Skoček.

Art Friday

This is an artwork by artist Sonya Clark, named Gold Coast Journey.  Finished in 2016.  It is 5,000 inches of gold wire spun around an ebony spool.  Clark carefully wrapped the wire as a way to measure and try to grasp (and perhaps symbolize) the 5,000 mile distance between Richmond, VA — which was both the seat of the Confederacy and the second largest port for human trafficking, as well as her home at the time — and the Cape Coast of Ghana, also known as the Gold Coast, were millions of people were captured, bought, and brought across the Atlantic Ocean to be sold, abused, and ultimately enslaved into forced hard labour throughout the Americas.

Additional works by Sonya Clark here

Her webpage click here

 

 

It’s Tuesday

I really don’t know what to say.  I don’t know what more could be said that already hasn’t been said, and by many voices and in many more eloquent ways.  And maybe it isn’t a time for me to say much, but instead to listen.

And to that, listen… if this anger is a surprise to you, then I assert you have very likely been either willingly disengaged or deliberately dismissive and smug.  There is a lot of shit happening to people for no (real, justified) reason, a lot of disproportionate infliction of suffering, a lot of power plays and asshattery and sycophancy and pathological hording and so much treatment of others as nothing but pawns and expendable nothings, led by psychopaths who have closed themselves off to human connection.

I even spoke about it just a couple of weekends ago, about myself being table flippy from all the f-ed up parts of our systems that have been made worse and put onto stark display during the ‘natural’ event known as a pandemic.  And how much of that is supported by and held in place by our systems and how much we need to step up and speak up and especially to march to the ballot box and get our hands dirty in wrenching those systems back to serve us and not us serve a system that is designed to only serve a few.  And to that I still hold – step up, wrest control, and point things towards a world that works for everyone, with no one left out.

(And, of course, step one is to recognize that everyone includes EVERYONE.  There are no “that group/race/nationality/fandom/whatever over there are lazy or stupid or evil or lesser than or etc.”  I often think that should go without saying, but, of course as it turns out, it isn’t so automatic.  To many people, their so-called superiority is so much a part of their identity and they are willing to, and even hoping and wanting to, inflict and harm and fight and kill for it.  This is immoral, corrupt, depraved, and an absolute sin.)

But even then I must remember that I get to speak here from a platform of privilege.  I’m table flippy about many shitty things and about people being shitty, but some of those really shitty things I have the absolute luxury of not having to face.  Of not having to worry about.  Of not even having to think about them if I choose not to.

And so there is the moment to choose.  Choose to listen, to think about them, to reckon, and to support the voices, the actions, and the people who are leading things towards equity and justice.  With an absolute emphasis on the listening part, and to listen hard.  To read accounts like the one below, one filled with nothing one might consider extreme or outright cinematic, but the general, daily, so-common-it’s-in-the-background-but-it’s-always-there-like-a-sword-over-your-head experience of living in a system that is geared to make you and keep you a lessor (and potentially dead).  I likely won’t ever have this experience, but I can imagine it, and I must imagine it and listen to it and let it in.  So that I can be a more open person for having done it.  To ensure I account for any of my hidden biases (and remove them wherever I can).  And to be rightfully angered so that I never step over this kind of shit and let it slide.

This needs to end.

Please read this account by Asha Tomlinson, as reported on the CBC:  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/raising-young-black-man-1.5594179.

 

Architecture Monday

Thinking of relaxation, recently I went looking for saunas, and didn’t expect to find this little gem near(ish) my hometown, on the shores of the Georgian Bay!

There’s a great number of juxtapositions and sweet attention to detail that really makes this work. For starters, the exterior is this very handsome box, dead simple in form but deliciously rendered in worn wooden siding while also being nestled into the glacier-scraped rockface just hovering above the water line.  And so while it’s sharp corners and straight lines are definitively not of the natural landscape it nevertheless fits in quite well, a compliment to the whole and to the horizon.  Placed cut stones near the approach further help to unify the box into the landscape while providing the structure’s roof as a deck.

Inside, the straight lines and dark wood turn into blond cedar that forms an amorphic and cozy grotto.  Gracefully shaped, skylights and windows, benches and the sauna stones themselves all flow seamlessly into each other.  Precision shaped, the wood grain was precisely aligned so that the individual panels all unify as though carved from a single piece of wood (or as though carved directly into the cliff face).  With a view out to the bay, the trees, and the sunsets beyond, it really fits the idea for “a quiet spot of retreat and relaxation”.

Splendidly done.

The Grotto Sauna by Partisans Architecture

Space X Crew Capsule: Orbit, attained!

Another awesome and exciting launch, the first crewed Dragon 2 mission!  Flawless launch, flawless separation, and she’s flying free, en route to the ISS.  Oh, and stage 1 booster landed successfully as well.  I’m as giddy as all get go.

Best of all?  One of the two astronauts saying, “Let’s light this candle” several minutes before launch.  Classic words.