When I was younger, I caught part of Lovelock's Gaia Theory, and connected it in my mind to the idea of how bees work in a hive -- the notion of an "intelligence" made of many parts. I wondered what it would be like to actually be a hive mind -- to be composed of theoretically independent entities that function together as a single organism, and sometimes dreamed of being the biosphere of Terra. I still sometimes wonder if something like a swarm of bees could be in aggregate intelligent, or whether the more open nature of the space between them precludes the intercommunication presumably needed for deep intelligence. The idea that trees might think meaningfully, albeit much more slowly, seems pretty unlikely now. Gleich's Chaos and the way people walk: delightful meditations on complexity and futzing that produces a seemingly stable result. How meaningful are layers of intelligence built on top of people as social units?
Idea of the bee dancing and ant scents: parallels to social signals we send each other in various societies. Specifics of those symbol sets: differ between societis, have different creative potentials ad shortcomings -- engineering tradeoffs. People with broken wiring for any kind of dance: Aspergers and others, need very explicit, spoken-language-based nudges and shoves to avoid irritating others, frequently do it anyhow because as bees/ants we're not used to providing cues on that level, and certain characteristics of how properly functioning social wiring permits make being explicit often a bad thing. Deniability: blunts cold truths people have difficulty facing, provides gentler, less confrontational ways to adapt to social situations. Subtleties of body language, invitations, phrasing: provide better cues to social interaction than explicit mention (although sometimes explicit mention and discussion is highly desirable). Relations may range from various types of friendships to "I am ok with that person being around" to "I don't like them much but if I'm bored they're ok company" to "I dislike them but will tolerate and be civil/distant-but-friendly with them to be around others I like" to other things, but these things are rarely put on the table. To "put on the table" - mention issues/states-of-being explicitly and undeniably, makes it possible to discuss them, also may "throw the gauntlet" or change some relations permanently. To give a name to something also makes it more permanent - if one slowly comes to dislike someone less (or vice versa), easier to adapt if status has not been mentioned on a language level. Language level: like bee dances. Imagine: creation of new sets of rules for a theoretical new culture, covering body language, notions of honour and appropriate responses to actions, etc. Programming the bees/ants that we are in aggregate, new rules of etiquette.
Etiquette: Someone once told me etiquette is designed to provide rules so most people can be maximally comfortable in social situations. This presumes that everyone agrees on a set of rules for etiquette, and possibly that the rules make sense. Recall: in some cultures, burping after a meal was shown as a sign of approval, while for me, I don't want to smell or be exposed too closely to other people's bodily odours and expellations in a casual way. Another memory: saying that "I am full" - considered improper because of imagery it summoned in someone, memory of probably feeling the same when in the more distant past someone patted their stomach and said they're stuffed. Are details as fine as some circles and societies have worthwhile? Are the expectations they bring worth the cost of inevitable difference, both between societies/subsocieties and between those who do not remember them all? Experiments in etiquette: In restaurants, when I need somthing serviced or am done with something, I move it about two inches further away from me - hope for more water in restaurants and the like. So far, limited success at getting places to pick up on that.
Meditation: a friend is someone who would make efforts to establish occasional in-person contact (presuming that to be possible), an acquaintence is someone who would possibly extend social interaction when it occurs by chance but not of their own volition. Backoff-heuristics should generally apply when one side indicates interest and the other side never does their own initiating, and allowances for live events should be made. Someone is not a friend if one imagines they would never contact one to hang out in the future, given the physical possibility of that. There are many kinds of acquaintences, including some that include a certain closeness. Suspicion: This is almost universal across cultures, making a replacement set of rules for it would be difficult.
Tonight: Saw "Throne of Blood", a fairly far-out Japanese *interpretation* of Macbeth, made in the 1950s and set in a time of warlords in Japan, courtesy Pittsburgh Filmmakers. Apart from the modem sounds at the art (painfully shrill flutes), it was a fantastic film.
If anyone I know personally would like to take a large, lovable cat, please let me know. *sniff*