The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Friday, August 14, 2015

Why the Cathedral

In 2007ish that sperglord then going by the name "Mencius Moldbug" thought up the term "the Cathedral" to flag our ultracalvinist social-structure. Some have since thought along parallel lines, of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Clerisy. It turns out Moldbug was a poet and has kept dabbling in it. Moldbug must have read at least some Coleridge, Cathedral is the instantiation of Clerisy, case closed - right?

Eric Raymond, last year, floated that Moldbug was also a software-engineer, so was more likely thinking of software development models. Raymond didn't prove the case, because - as he discloses - he's too close to the subject. That's where I come in!

I think Raymond has a point. Software nerds in my generation (trolling the open-mic nights in 1997) do know some Coleridge - they at least should have backtracked the stuff Douglas Adams cited, Kublai Khan and Mariner. But how much Coleridge? Moldbug was a poet but was he ever a Romantic poet? And I think we can dispense with the notion that they would have got "Clerisy" secondhand from the "Front Page Republic" blog...

Maybe some of us might have attempted Christabel. We might also be aware that Coleridge was involved in the Romantic movement and that he did a lot of drugs. Personally, at least since 1996, I've preferred Byron. In that vein, since I did attempt some of Coleridge's other works, I couldn't argue much with Byron's assessment of his whole oeuvre:

Shall gentle COLERIDGE pass unnoticed here,
To turgid ode and tumid stanza dear?
Though themes of innocence amuse him best,
Yet still Obscurity's a welcome guest.
If Inspiration should her aid refuse
To him who takes a Pixy for a muse,
Yet none in lofty numbers can surpass
The bard who soars to elegize an ass:
So well the subject suits his noble mind,
He brays, the Laureate of the long-eared kind.

So, yeah, I haven't read much Coleridge beyond the two obvious (I didn't finish Christabel). The first time I'd heard of the Clerisy was after I'd read a lot of Moldbug, and after Obama's coronation election. Most likely during that second coronation; that's when I first floated the term in public.

(I am usually un-shy about name-dropping here - as you can see here. When I see a term I like, I mention it. If I had first heard of the Clerisy on the first week of 2012's bleak November, as is likely, then I delayed this name-drop for after the election. That will have been because I was suspecting that Romney would win. A Romney victory would have falsified the Clerisy / Moldbug theory... slightly (Reid still had the Senate). But in the end, the Clerisy needed to herald the second coming of their christ.)

I don't think I'm alone. I suspect I can hold Moldbug himself in my non-Coleridge-reading company. Maybe even Raymond as of 2012. No, 2015: there are 672 "thoughts" under ESR's 2014 comment and none mention the Clerisy.

And the Cathedral-as-software model does look a lot like our political system, as Moldbug presents it: The bigwigs do their work, and every "sprint cycle" of two, four, or six years the bigwigs claim to consult us on what to do next.


posted by Zimri on 19:46 | link | 0 comments

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