Today, while read­ing Tom Vanderbilt’s The Plea­sure and Pain of Speed from Nau­tilus’ Issue 9, I learned about the sac­cade. This is the term for the rapid move­ment of eyes between fix­a­tion on dif­fer­ent objects. Our visu­al per­cep­tion is basi­cal­ly turned off dur­ing this time — which, appar­ent­ly, makes up about 60 — 90 min­utes of our day.

This ties in nice­ly to an anthro­po­log­i­cal the­o­ry I have that I wrote about over a decade ago: The Space Between Thoughts. I think we have an instinc­tu­al aware­ness that our per­cep­tions are incom­plete — and then we come up with all kinds of sto­ries and the­o­ries for what hap­pens in those gaps, and where our per­cep­tion fails. What hap­pens dur­ing a sac­cade. The sac­cade is where the coin reap­pears — where the mag­ic hap­pens.

It’s nice to final­ly have a word for it.

Historical Footnotes

I posit that the event hori­zon of “his­tor­i­cal­ly impor­tant” as a qual­i­ty of infor­ma­tion is the point at which the dataset dis­ap­pears from liv­ing mem­o­ry. The mag­ni­tude of cer­tain events ensures that they will be record­ed for pos­ter­i­ty, but even then, the rea­sons behind that record­ing fade as the peo­ple who expe­ri­enced it die. I might be using the wrong terms here. Maybe it’s not his­to­ry I’m talk­ing about, but anthro­pol­o­gy. His­to­ry is “these are the things that hap­pened”; anthro­pol­o­gy is “these are the ways peo­ple act­ed.”

Liv­ing as I do, in a soci­ety where many peo­ple are arguably obsessed with record­ing and archiv­ing every detail of their lives, I won­der what meth­ods future historians/anthropologists will use to sift wheat from chaff — espe­cial­ly when, as this post is evi­dence for, so much of what is shared and saved is chaff.

That’s long-term his­toric­i­ty. If his­to­ry is still being record­ed 5,000 years from now, this whole epoch will like­ly be reduced to a one-lin­er: “An age of tech­no­log­i­cal growth so rapid it’s effects threat­ened to destroy civ­i­liza­tion.”

Spe­cif­ic to this is the rise of the auto­mat­ed auto­bi­og­ra­phy. Peo­ple have been post­ing things online so long now that there are ser­vices to show us and let us share what we were doing to the day, 1, 3, 5, or 10 years ago. Is there a broad­er desire to con­sume these mini-his­to­ries, or do they just exist to serve our need to feel more impor­tant than we are? It doesn’t have to be either/or. My bet is that it’s an admix­ture of onanism, exhi­bi­tion­ism, and voyeurism.

Sig­nal to noise depends on your ears.

Trash is trea­sure.


so… i’m — aahh — i had a poem in the stu­dent lit­er­ary mag­a­zine, The Jug­gler. does that make me a pub­lished poet? or does it have to count else­where? can i call myself a poet now or is that still pre­ma­ture?

i was also induct­ed into the lamb­da alpha beta chap­ter of the Anthro­pol­o­gy Hon­or Soci­ety. I got a groovy card and a cer­tifi­cate. I don’t real­ly know what it means to be what­ev­er I am now. In fact, I think it is just a thing to say that you are and has no real mean­ing or impact. Kin­da like Shriners. Or maybe not, cuz Shriners get to dri­ve around in go-carts at parades and they get to wear fezzes (sp? fezi?). More like a mem­ber of Con­gress. Yeah, def­i­nite­ly con­gress.

Applied Philosophy


i know why i like anthro­pol­o­gy so much. i think i have final­ly under­stood the holism of anthro­pol­o­gy. anthro­pol­o­gy is applied phi­los­o­phy. i’ve read so many things that describe types of behav­ior and dis­cus­sions of what defines real­i­ty, etc that seem total­ly unaware that anthro­pol­o­gists deal with these con­cepts as a mat­ter of course, not only meta­phys­i­cal, but doc­u­ment­ed and observed in a vari­ety of cul­tures. i was dis­cussing with Hani the oth­er day about con­cep­tions of real­i­ty and this man named Rorty says every­one has their own real­i­ty, some­thing sim­i­lar is posit­ed in Zen and the Art of Motor­cy­cle Main­te­nance. i heard/read these things and thought…of course! the real­i­ty i know is struc­tured from the soci­ety and mythos i am sur­round­ed by. my rela­tion­ship as sub­ject to object, “Qual­i­ty” in the book, is deter­mined by the asso­ci­a­tions learned and expe­ri­enced by exis­tence. those who are termed ‘insane’ are those whose learn­ing and expe­ri­ence have formed ana­logues that are sig­nif­i­cant­ly dif­fer­ent from the soci­etal norm. their real­i­ty is not invalid…just dif­fer­ent. the con­flict aris­es because the real­i­ties can­not coex­ist and remain in har­mo­ny.

after that digres­sion i will attempt to be suc­cinct.

i think when­ev­er a new philo­soph­i­cal argu­ment aris­es, the per­son who comes up with it should head to their local anthro­pol­o­gist to find out if there is doc­u­men­ta­tion of the belief sys­tem in the real­ly real world.

chances are there is.

the more i shuf­fle my anthro­po­log­i­cal knowl­edge and sup­ple­ment it with oth­er forms, the more i under­stand what the hell humans are.

Goat Roast 2002

today was the annu­al Anthro­pol­o­gy Depart­ment Goat Roast. At nine in the morn­ing some anthro majors and the profs, using stone tools pro­duced in the Lith­ic Tech­nolo­gies class, butchered a goat and a sheep. keep in mind that prop­er­ly pro­duced obsid­i­an stone knives are some­thing like 5times sharp­er than a surgeon’s scalpel. so the actu­al cut­ting part was pret­ty easy. then they were mari­nad­ed, kebabed and grilled to per­fec­tion. not to men­tion the oth­er great foods that accom­pa­nied it: goat cur­ry, chili, sal­ad, noo­dles, pota­to dish­es, and won­der­ful peanut butter/ choco­late bars. when anthro peo­ple get togeth­er the par­ties are great. espe­cial­ly since most of the side dish­es were recipes from around the world. i’m going to buy the new anthro club tshirt too its pret­ty nice. i got to do some flint knap­ping myself, but since i have nev­er tak­en the class, i’m not too good at it. how­ev­er, i did get a nice sharp flake that i cut my thumb with. i would have died very ear­ly if i had been cro-magnon. cleanup sucked most­ly because we were all numb with cold but hey if that is the price you pay to be an anthro nerd with all the oth­er anthro nerds (profs includ­ed) so be it. hot damn i had fun!

ND to Fargo

dis­tance from ND to Fargo…734.2 miles…estimated hours of trav­el­ing time 12hrs, 27mins. thank god for instant mes­sen­ger. too bad you can’t actu­al­ly look at or touch the per­son you are talk­ing to. i’m gonna write a paper on the reflex­iv­i­ty of anthro­po­log­i­cal film­mak­ing now.