Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

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Rings and People

Amusement: Title reminds me of webrings, a one-time meta-organisational fad on the Web. I think at the time my webpage was part of both the OS/2 and the general operating systems webpage.

Thoughts drawn back to a quote from the opening of the last episode of the Britcom "Spaced" - "They say that the family of the 21st century is made up of friends, not relatives". Is that true? Rephrased: family structure loses prominence in close social ties, with innermost circles of friends both coming to resemble family in nuance and potentially being stronger than ties of blood. Why might this happen? Increased geographical mobility combined with the process of "reinventing oneself" at University (presumably away from kin) seem likely. Is this a good thing? : much harder question - ties of blood bring a kind of solidarity that is difficult to breach (the interplay between cultural and biological cues here is interesting), can circles of friends fill that role? Could we imagine good friends "doing anything for each other" in the way that nearby parts of families sometimes do? Would Mo-zi's society be as stable/doable as that of Confucius (either as a full-compliance or partial-led-by-a-movement)?

The concept of someone being "blood" to me has a certain amount of resonance, likewise-but-distinct, someone being "kin" - I'm not sure if this differs in practice from close friends - I have a feeling that in situations of need, I would offer a fair amount of asssistance to someone I didn't know who seemed to be a decent sort, more for acquaintences/light friends, and a lot to kin or friends (probably nothing special to blood who I did not consider kin, e.g. family I had not met or those I have made a break with for some reason). That's not the only kind of consideration people normally give through social ties though - solidarity in case of need may differ in strength from actual feelings of closeness, desire for particular company, etc. Kin often get a "first shot" at closeness, but apart from what may be instinct imposing a certain solidarity (which I feel in myself), we may often find, as we grow as people, we end up in mental places different from where our kin do. While there are kin for me where I might imagine being friends were they not kin, that's not everyone. If I imagined finding out that an acquaintence turned out to be blood to me and family events pushed me to consider them kin, it still probably would change how I felt about them, even though I would not consider it necessarily an obligation to feel so nor do I think that the Confucian model for family (or its cousins in traditional western moralities) is particularly worth holding as an ideal. Someone completely Moist would not strike me as odd or problematic (although a special attachment to children being reared is probably a very good idea in most cases and intrepreting Mo-zi as against the symbiotic life-partnerships people might form with their SOs is not something I would like if we were to hold his ideals).

I really like how SqHill has both large social circles and a neighbourhood feeling that they fit together into. The ability to walk around to get everywhere one needs is vital to that, I think (I recently had a discussion with someone whether cars or tv are worse for modern society - I went with tv, but the case for cars is not a weak one). The feeling is a bit stronger here than anywhere else I've lived - I'm not sure how easy it is for students-away-from-home to broadly participate in these things in most cities (Columbus had the "art scene", but I never felt part of a neighbourhood - did any such neighbourhoods have what we have here, or is that something not all places have?).. I wonder, if that is in fact missing from a lot of areas of the US, what would it take to bring it about? Presumably suburbs, cars-as-necessity, and tv are part of the problem. I belive people who "need to drive" to go anywhere, regularly watch TV for a few hours every day, and live in the suburbs are less likely to be interesting people or to participate in culture. What can be done?


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