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On British Reservedness and American Boisterousness

The British are known be to reserved, and Americans boisterous, but I don’t think Americans communicate more in their higher volume of noises and gesticulations. If one could somehow measure the information content of interpersonal micro-gestures — all the nods, grunts, spoken comments people use to lubricate interactions with others in public spaces, I think on average British people would be found to communicate more. What is called their reservedness refers primarily to a lower volume of noise, but because of this a greater proportion of their emissions are received as signals. In an American cafe, if you accidentally cut someone in line, say, you might apologize with a hammed-up smile, to signal that it was a genuine mistake and you mean well toward the other; seeing your smile the other might wonder if that means you’re playing some kind of joke, and their uncertainty and insecurity triggers in them perhaps a vaguely cold glare before they correct it, with an equally vague smile at the end. You, in turn, are left wondering whether they got your signal, or if they nonetheless take you for an inconsiderate aggressor. Both parties leave the situation less clear about who exactly they just interacted with, and what exactly just happened. A British person making this kind of faux pas might mumble an awkward “sorry” while nervously looking at their shoes, and the other British person might say nothing at all, or grunt inaudibly so as to dismiss the situation as a non-event. The British situation might look like poorer or weaker communication, but really it’s more effective communication, and more proportional to the situation: with an expenditure of nearly zero effort, both parties walk away quite confident this meaningless misunderstanding meant nothing at all and that the other thinks nothing of it. The Americans did not generate more light, but much more heat.

#4 - Jonathan Havercroft

Dr. Jonathan Havercroft is Associate Professor of International Political Theory at the University of Southampton. He has published work on the historical development and transformation of state sovereignty, 17th century and 20th century political philosophy, space weaponization and security, global dimensions of indigenous politics and hermeneutics. He is currently working on the ethical dimensions of international norms, theories of political affect, and the role of agreement in democratic theory and practice. His book Captives of Sovereignty (Cambridge University Press, 2011) looks at the historical origins of state sovereignty, critiques its philosophical assumptions and offers a way to move contemporary critiques of sovereignty beyond their current impasse.

Notes

Why Jonathan loves betting on the ponies (00:06). I'm cool with eating animals because animals eat animals and would eat me (00:14). Academics who sell-out their expertise are pretty lame, but I have a plan (00:24). Why self-help gurus are usually full of shit but sometimes useful (00:40). Academic efficiency stuff (47:00). What Jonathan learned from hiring a personal trainer (00:55). Jonathan's kettlebell routines (00:59). Running and high-intensity intervals, pros and cons regarding stress (1:12). Jonathan's proposal for a national house-cleaning service to overthrow the patriarchy; fully automated luxury communism, etc. (1:35).

#2 - Jonathan Havercroft

Dr. Jonathan Havercroft is Associate Professor of International Political Theory at the University of Southampton. He has published work on the historical development and transformation of state sovereignty, 17th century and 20th century political philosophy, space weaponization and security, global dimensions of indigenous politics and hermeneutics. He is currently working on the ethical dimensions of international norms, theories of political affect, and the role of agreement in democratic theory and practice. His book Captives of Sovereignty (Cambridge University Press, 2011) looks at the historical origins of state sovereignty, critiques its philosophical assumptions and offers a way to move contemporary critiques of sovereignty beyond their current impasse.

Notes

How I'm trying to achieve absolute disalienation and why Jonathan thinks I'm crazy; living in the UK vs. the US; childhood; why it's good to have goals even if you know you can't achieve them; Caitlyn Jenner; bathroom gender laws; is the news worth reading?; how and why my dad used to get in fights and hitchhike but I never did; the tv show Cops and cultural change since the 1990s; the rise of after school activities as social control; whether I should want to have kids and Jonathan refusing to give me advice; how to live in the most revolutionary way; the problem of charismatic power and cults; the life of Wittgenstein; left-wing stupidities; Michael Oakeshott; why Jonathan thinks I'm going to become a conservative; gambling, etc.

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