Monday, March 24, 2008

Intuition and analysis

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What role does intuition play in analysis?

That all depends, of course, on the analyst.

In my opinion intuition or "gut feelings" only have value in cases where you have immersed yourself in a subject, where concentration has been sufficiently intense for the saturated subconscious to surrender a shortcut to the goal.

The best explanation I can ever remember reading of this selectivity of intuition came from some Indian sage who remarked that the Virgin Mary doesn't appear to devotees of Krishna, nor Govinda to the little shepherd girls of Fatima.

Intuition of this sort has to be subjected in its turn to the same process of concentration and rumination that produced it in the first place. Then, of course, a certain rigor as to the accuracy of the intuitions or "keeping score" has to be in place. This is where the Spanish expression that "the Devil knows more because he is so old than because he is the Devil", comes into play.

I learned the practical aspects of this dialectic of input/feedback/synthesis in a way that is probably not common to most political analysts. For a decade of what many (not me) would consider the best years of their lives, I was a painter (artiste peintre not house). I made a serious attempt at this and managed to show in good galleries and sell enough of my work to live. How I recycled myself into political analysis is another story. Suffice to say here that I never cease to be surprised at how useful the methods developed in painting have been in studying anything else.

What did I learn as a painter besides never to trust an art dealer or buy cheap paint?

In no particular order: that it is fundamental to study the entire space you are working on all the time; that the smallest change in one place changes everything else; that the space around an object is as, or more important than, the object itself; that in every situation, there is a center, perhaps hidden, around which everything in the situation revolves; that, for the clear mind, objectivity and subjectivity are two faces of the same coin... and so on and so on.

Then there are two maxims of Picasso's that go back to the relationship between effort and intuition.
"inspiration exists, but it has to find us working" and of course, "I do not seek. I find" and then too, at least in my particular case, "I am always doing things I can't do, that's how I get to do them".

This all came up because in a previous post I said that I had a feeling of foreboding about Barack Obama and a reader, quite reasonably, inquired, "yeah, well, did you have any intuitions about Bush in 1999?" and funny enough, I did at the time.

I had supported Al Gore during the campaign and he is still my favorite for president today, but in '99, at the time of the election limbo, of "hanging chadsville"... I got this very strong intuitive impression that Dubya's presidency would be "transformational"... as indeed it has been.

Did I have any "foreboding"?

No, just the strong feeling in those sunny, pre-9/11 times that the Bush restoration would bring great change.

Has Bush been terrible?

You bet!

Does that have an upside? Ask Picasso.

"Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction."

Seen from that point of view the Bush presidency has been very productive.

Here, what I call my "inner Lenin" comes into play. If most of the planet considers, in poll after poll, that US hegemony is the most dangerous and destabilizing element in the world today, then the sooner it ends, the better for everyone and if the cost of maintaining this hegemony absorbs so much of the nation's resources that it is depriving the American people of essentials like health, education and ultimately, old age pensions, the sooner it ends, the better for the American people.

Again Picasso:
"I don't believe in accidents. There are only encounters in history. There are no accidents."

And best of all for closing: "
You mustn't always believe what I say. Questions tempt you to tell lies, particularly when there is no answer." DS


Jay Salter said...

"Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction,” Picasso sez, and you pass this along as an analytical guide.

But here’s an indisputable fact: One of three persons will become President of the United States – Clinton, Obama, or McCain.

Take your pick. Which of these is likely to produce the most creative result from the Bush destruction?

Or do you prefer a continuing catastrophe?

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

"Do you prefer a continuing catastrophe?"
That is a good question, one I have answered before. Part of me, the compassionate, human part, would like a soft landing, but the colder, more analytical part of me, what I call the "inner Lenin" thinks that things have to get much, much worse before they ever really get any better.

Here is pretty useful definition:
"Leninism could be defined as adherence to a purely political-tactical set of principles, like "the end justifies the means" (i.e., use any means necessary to achieve a desired outcome), "the worse, the better" (i.e., fundamental change only comes when conditions are so bad that social transformation is inevitable), and "give them enough rope" (i.e., political elites will bring about their own demise by their greed and corruption)."

I wouldn't be a 100% positive that the choice will be Obama or Clinton. If Clinton wins PA by double digits the convention may very well deadlock, in which case perhaps the only way forward would be to draft Al Gore. Gore's silence is a tribute to this possibility.

Anonymous said...

Bush I knew would be a disaster of some sort from the beginning. This view felt rational from my view of his positions and the brazeness of his lying.

The only other politician I have taken against the intuitive way I have taken against Obama was Lieberman from before he was nominateted for V-P. Something was off. I allowed myself to be talked around and actually attended a rally for the ticket featuring his mother but reverted to my original view watching him during Florida.

That Obama went out of his way to make a speech at the Connecticut Democratic Party State diner giving Lieberman a glowing endorsement in the primary is one item of confirmation.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

You are right about Lieberman. I couldn't understand why Gore chose him, but a lot of water has gone over the dam since then.

RC said...

Thank you for addressing my question and I greatly appreciate your view particularly the peintre observations which I can relate to.
Since I don't live in the US, but most of my family, parents, siblings and children do, I do not want them to experience Leninism, but I also think there is a long way to go for the US to get to a more reasonable place in the geopolitical net.
I still think Obama is the best choice for now, but I respect your Leninistic construct.
Living in Puerto Rico since October of 1979, by November of 1979 I began to think "Why doesn't the US just cut this place loose, and push it out to sea, and let the residents be forced to get their act together?" After almost 30 years, I believe exactly that even now, so I guess I have some type of Leninistic tendencies also.
Well, when all is said and done however, I have this to say about the peintre life, since you are fond of the quotes, "Art for Art's sake, Money for Christ's sake!" a favorite saying in the commercial art field I remember from the seventies in NYC.
Yes, the money interests controlling politics is at the bottom of most of the decay in the US. That's my theory for the last 30 years.