The Subduction of the Enlightenment
beneath the Omnipotent Global Corporate Technical Empire
and the transformation of the Freethinking Individual into the Intelligent Corporate Agent
fascinated by the Spectacle of the Illusion of Progress
while producing and consuming the coy Objects of Desire
People are aware of and despondent about of the sale of the America election process to lobby and PAC money distributers.
Why do we vote? Why do we continue a chore that benefits someone else?
Despite relaxing their grip, election procedures, which are strictly maintained by the states and the parties and loosely overseen by the courts and Federal law, have not increased turnout. Voting rights have been extended to include the unpropertied, more genders and voting in person. You can register to vote where you register your car. States can reach out to felons. The turnout remains low but does not disappear.
Lobbyists are teams of lawyers working for agencies, well-run corporations with access to the politicians at the Federal level. The agencies represent clients, also corporations, such as publically-traded companies, private equity firms, labor unions, industry associations, the mature in age and any organization with an interest in influencing Federal law.
The clients are footing the bill by contributing to election campaigns, which are advertising campaigns. Television, social media and other outlets are employed to glorify, expose, praise and scandalize candidates with the usual mass-marketing techniques aimed at middle-class American audiences, adding emotional energy to products that don't excite us.
Handlers then direct the candidates to appear to act in the interests of their financiers and the voting public. The first audience is small and private while the second is large and generic. In aggregate, you are driven to vote for the Democrat or the Republican.
The money is extracted from the middle-class via corporate profits, membership dues and private donations to advertise to the middle class to get them excited enough to choose from the list of candidates selected by the corporate donors.
This multi-billion dollar squirrel cage provides the energy to saw off a slice of National production for the influencers while reducing their tax-liability, producing many times the price paid for the access to law-makers while the voters pay for their own propaganda. The television industry profits from the advertising they sell to their corporate sponsors and profits again from the freely distributed sensations produced by the campaigns as they appear at the various celebrity events. In this way, business regulates government.
Corporations now are left with the knotty problem of reducing their labor force without losing them as customers.
Do the One Percenters vote? During Carly Fiorina's 2009 Senate bid, the LA Times reported "...she failed to vote in 75% of California state elections since 2000, including all gubernatorial elections and presidential primaries." (http://articles.latimes.com/2009/nov/05/business/fi-hiltzik5). Was there a lack of peer-pressure to vote by her closest associates?
And what do we get from logging time in the squirrel cage, pursuing the TV image floating just out of reach? A chance to obtain our treasured objects of desire? The possibility of becoming the kind of person we envy? And why are these Wall Street Journal people laughing?
The problem of culture is always crowd control and the solution is the dynamic construction of the homogenized and docile cultural subject.
|The Price of American Democracy|
|US GDP 2015||$18 trillion||http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/gdp|
|US Federal Budget 2015||$ 4.7 trillion||https://www.cbo.gov/publication/51110|
|US Corporate Profits 2016||$1.5 trillion||http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/corporate-profits|
|US Federal Lobbying Expenditures||$2.6 billion||http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/04/how-corporate-lobbyists-conquered-american-democracy/390822/|
|US PAC Expenditures 2016||$1.2 billion||http://www.fec.gov/disclosure/pacSummary.do?cf=phome|
|US House and Senate Campaign Finance Expenditures 2015-2016||$1.2 billion||http://www.fec.gov/disclosurehs/hsnational.do|
|US Federal Election Campaign Expenditures for 4706 candidates 2016||$.554 billion||http://www.fec.gov/data/CandidateSummary.do?format=html|
|US SuperPAC Expenditures 2014||$.345 billion||https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/superpacs.php?cycle=2014|
The system of alliances that blossoms during the election cycle has a center composed of thousands of contributors, some of which contribute to both of the major parties and almost none contribute to third parties. In aggregate, the money is about evenly split between the two. We can say that they cancel while eliminating 3rd and 4th party candidates. The outcome is a vector sum of all the financial influences and always favors the 2 major parties.
Is there something like a flywheel affect in the circulation of money and materials that stabilizes our culture? Is the election industry a macro-economic component, like Social Security, providing a constant circulation of money and thus opposing sudden changes in direction? Or is the industry like Christmas, periodically pumping cash into the economy, increasing the chances that retailers make an annual profit?
The middle-class voter is the product of the election industry and not presidents and congresspersons. Diverse individuals enter the industry as raw material and exit as tribal members.
If personality is constructed during imperial ascendency, is it deconstructed during decline? At the leaving behind of empire, while facing reductions in fortunes and impending social catastrophe, are the stories we tell each other songs of woe expressed in the language of decimation, reflecting the chaos? Or are they pretty fantasies designed to contain the disintegrating subject?
By now we've been around the first philosophical turn, that we don't see things at all but only the light from the things, which is not the same. And we've also heard already that the position we occupy when observing, our altitude and attitude, can filter and wildly amply features of the observed.
And if the observer is inconstant, a drifting judge, a sequence of perspectives, memories of conclusions, a collection of phobias, different beings at different times the shimmering relationship ductile in navigation and agile in play. And suddenly, many more of us appear on the planet, speaking, reacting to the multitude of encounters with multitudes of personalities.
My selves have to look into tiny spaces of subtle detail and they can't get in while accompanied with hardened categories, gross bigotries, my ancestors' advice, misremembered opinions, the echoes of analysis, reverberating epiphanies, social armor, my friends and enemies, books I almost read and everyone looking over my shoulder. Detail changes quickly. Being agile is impossible with the load.
I will be testing the subject in its relationship with United Statesian culture, its domestic and foreign policy, by gratuitously jumping from topic to topic, assuming that America is a big strong empire and can take some criticism. And in the chasing, I will dissolve my pretended unity by learning.
Expect independent flight, the departure from rooted opinion, becoming unstuck from opinion, being decentered.
The Enlightenment is over. The time when a person could, through knowledge, become free of social control has come and gone. Knowledge once again serves political power in a new and cunning way. We participate in the mass construction and mobilization of producers and consumers for the global economy, unifying, homogenizing and losing all but a remnant of native diversity.
The author writes while imagining the reader, while the reader dreams up the characters in the story, and the author too, and from this complex ragtime orchestra of characters real and imagined being transforms. Each instance of culture is an animus that is constructed socially, stretching and compressing and reinforcing and dismembering its self-image, pride and reputation in an effort to adapt to the many social situations, real and virtual. They will have our cooperation.
Our culture evolves, flows, mobilizes, condenses, congeals, hardens, cracks and blows around over time and space, scattered concentrations of successful techniques for recruiting, ordering, and mobilizing the multitudes into more or less controlled cycles of production and consumption, displaying the apparent ocean of social events. The immaterial is getting a grip on the material. We are becoming more and more alike. But they can't get all of us all the time.
A cathedral has millions of details, from each brick and tile to the chapels and their art, the mutually-supporting architectural members, all shaped and placed by craftsmen paid from the surplus of agricultural wealth.
From the outside, the Saint Bernard church in Krakow is a unified structure whose components add to its unity. Its lower solidity bifurcates solidly but eventually turns into air at the tip of the spires.
In an alter, a saint flies above townspeople, all looking up and he up to the scourging of Jesus, brutality juxtaposed with inspiration , ignorance with consciousness . And all around odd symbols overlay and interrupt the saint's simple narrative of flight. A single eye with a great burst of golden rays oversees all through a cloud. The columns, the medallions, the tiny crucifix and the scant clothes of the angels, male and female, are made of gold. There is something for everyone.
But the skeptic in all of us (that's why we're in church in the first place) sees the irony. The gilding displays the wealth I'll never have. I've never seen a person with wings and I don't believe the saint can fly without them. It's just a picture. The peasants observe the aristocratic powers smiling wisely to each other up front, waiting in the back for their cracker and thimble of wine.
The Virgin Mary stands devoutly in her own sheltered domain, dominating the serpent of desire, in sharp contrast with my own culture where desire drives the economy, mightily turning the great wheels of production and consumption.
Jesus is not the same in each appearance. The first image is the ideal man, the second is wounded and the third displays a great weariness. They urge me to integrate the images into one personality and to become unified, the one who sees, one integrated personality. No one knows what he looked like. We only have stories. The purpose of the cathedral is communion and its bait is diversity. The flight is up to the grandeur of authority.
The cathedral is our response to diversity. The members of the are homogenized within their class. A chapel contains a tomb, hiding the hideous body of its funder, confined within a marble sarcophagus, his idealized effigy depicting him armored, devoutly holding his a sword, the ghost of his contemporary silently thinking that the knight was not trim and handsome but old and ugly and was not devout and selfless but cruel and greedy. But such things cannot be said and thus the secret of the ages is kept. What is not articulated is unconscious. To be mad is to speak the truth at the wrong time. The aristocrat has purchased his homogeneity. The peasants, being more numerous, pay their pittances to be treated in mass, to be aggregated as the picture of the flying saint shows.
The church operates on a diversity of faith among the members and together they assemble personalities from the multitude. Thus a person is not a single entity but a society of ancestral and contemporary personalities in chaotic conversation. Just as a human society has many centers of power and integrity, the internal society of each individual does not need a central manager. You are different people at different times, the collective responding appropriately, or not, to circumstances. The human problem is crowd control.
The Calvinist church in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, is empty of imagery, giving the skeptic no detail to criticize, no icons that conflict with memory or expectation, no distractions from the ideal of communion. Outside of the Calvinist church, the world and its chaos opposes homogenization. The churchgoer within the sanctuary, with minimal differences to snag consciousness, posits an opposition between them and us. We are homogenized as pure and harmonic while they are unclean and discordant.
Except when revolutionary, it's a mistake to say the aristocrats built the churches as sites of ritual to dominate the multitude of farmers and carpenters and herd-keepers and townsfolk. The aristocrats are as much contained by culture as any other class. From their very own pockets, the poor little aristocrats have to support the churches. And if they over-indulged their wealth and leisure, if they were bad leaders, the culture would suffer and so might they. And if not for all that, they preyed viciously on each other. At the top, they were commonly murdered by their own family, while the portraid hung in the hall. The presence of the aristocracy in the cathedral offers the skeptic a high or low personality to occupy. Virtues are recited but not practiced. The less wealthy look enviously on the jewelry and clothing of the upper-class. The old man looks lustfully at his neighbor's young wife. The 7 deadly sins apply to the peasants while the upper class lives riotously. Gossip complements austere ritual in the skeptic's ironic observation. Each different text creates a different reader. Humans are religious animals who construct edifices of war and peace, stone and pigment, personalities and parties in a continuing effort to become at the expense of others. Every difference is an illusion of perspective. Distant people are smaller and I am largest of all, containing the universe.
The post-modern solution to crowd control is mass-education, mass-marketing, mass-production of producers and consumers and the objects of desire. We reproduce ourselves ideologically and biologically.
Continue the transformation of perception and knowledge. After turning philosophically from absolute knowledge in the possession of old dead guys to a relativity of perception and finally to a variable observer, no longer the smart arbiter of knowledge but a fragmented creature hungry for uniformity. And bored with it too. This new degree of freedom creates a new opportunity to peer ever deeper and more accurately into the apparent social world. Apply it to any institution that brings people together, to the home, sports stadium, roadway, movie theater, and the workplace. Our consciousness, that formerly objective personality, is now just another object chaotically orbiting many others. Pass thru moments of fun.
Everyone knows that the US is a luxury vehicle for the privileged.
The plantation enslavement of hundreds of thousands of Africans, the slaughter and mass-incarceration of Native Americans at the behest of landowners, the invasions and annexations of the Mexican provinces of Texas, New Mexico and California, the invasion and occupation of the Spanish colonies of Cuba and the Philippines, the kingdom of Hawaii, the mass-murderous air wars on the Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians and Iraqis, the financing of civil wars and cruel dictatorships in Iran, El Salvador, Columbia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Chile, the Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia, Korea, the Phillipines and Indonesia provide overwhelming evidence of the lethal cruelty of the American imperial machine driven by the privileged. Millions of civilians have been murdered because their government or their people rejected US business interests. Dare to be free enough to say the United States of America is a rogue nation and that we are its apologists.
The mechanized invasions are financed by taxes on the US labor force who are mass-extruded through schools to be conscripted into industry and the mercenary armed forces with an occasional genius launched into celebrity orbit for spectacle's sake.
Some folks anguish over some revelation of history, blaming these or those, before going to a dinner and a show. Some prefer to remember the Alamo. All turn the wheel.
Personalities pop in and out of existence, dynamically positioned with respect to dynamic business interests. The labor force drags the imperial battle wagon along its fatal trajectory. The aristocracy drives labor and the other clanking machinery, lubricating it with propaganda, corruption, and low wages, choosing its victim from the economically, politically and militarily vulnerable, its minions penetrating under-saturated markets, carrying off fabulous wealth, bearing the banner of Progress, crushing dissent, founding dynasties, extinguishing species, and eventually perishing in decadence.
Washington DC is not the first imperial city to feed on the conquest of market but it might be the last. Merchant-driven empires prey upon the vestiges of earlier empires. The American empire feeds on the remains of the British, French and Soviet as they in turn fed. The human is an invasive species with a huge biomass. Dare to be free enough to say that the problem is humanity and that we, in our duplicity, are its agents.
If you tried to change your mind, you
would be opposed by all your friends who would
try to convince you to come back to your
senses. You would have to change their
minds, their relationships, separating them
from the huge factory to which they think they
are so perfectly and intimately joined.
They would rather throw you out.
You'd have to leave town for someplace where
they tolerated your kind of
person. You are your cultureís
product. Changing your mind means
changing yourself and everyone you
Changing your mind means changing yourself and everyone you know.
There are giants in every conversation, enormous invisible and conspiring fantasies of dominance and submission that drive us into the world to seek its objects. The personalities are a multiplexed adapter that connects current fantasy to community, child to family, citizen to state and subject to empire. Thus the free-thinking individual becomes the global corporate agent while the heights are occupied by an imagined heavenly chorus of advice while somebody behind the curtain charges admission.
We've long ago exceeded the natural carrying capacity of the planet. Fantastic desire is out of control, wanting more and different, and the personalities scramble to make the connection, nearly succeeding to grasp the world in terms that satisfy the insatiable hungers within. The personality is alternately individual, extraordinary, a pawn of an external agent, a tyrant, a liberal, a conservative, male, female, young, old, wise, stupid, self-serving and altruistic, wearing itself out trying to accommodate the inner with the outer, a trudging commutation, producing and consuming. Personalities are thin membranes that separate and connect hunger from the mythical objects of the world. The objects of desire no longer exist in the world but instead are illusions made of light that we buy and sell. They have no weight and cannot be resold.
There is no one actually
home: Only the fantasies reaching out with
their personalities like knives and forks,
trying to consume the furniture of the
world. The mechanism is unconscious
because it canít be talked about. The
talking can't talk about itself. It
would trip it up and desire would have to flee
ever deeper into the unconscious.
This is not a disease to be
cured or a mistake to be corrected. See
the multitudes in their doomed optimism, their
infected magnificence, their pathetic
innocence and their arrogant misery trying to
understand! See yourself in
No oneís home at the big house across the street, only the hallucinations at the doors and windows, shyly attractive and slyly hidden or leaning out boldly, talking toward a figure at another window. Sometimes they laugh at the same time but never at the same thing.
In the dark cellar, one hallucination weeps day and night while another stands before the mirror for hours, posing this way, then that. Another putters around, doing one thing or another, popping in and out of visibility, scurrying here and there.
When the hallucinations talk toward one another, mostly they talk languidly about what they like or dislike. When one appears in opposition, the other appears insulted and then both disappear.
For a moment there are no hallucinations at the doors and windows but only the big house with its empty eyes. And then suddenly a new one appears, sometimes combative, sometimes defeated and apologetic. Do you think theyíre actually listening to each other?
Mostly, one hallucination at a time appears on the face of the big house. Sometimes two hallucinations appear at adjacent windows and talk toward one another in the usual way. One rather attractive hallucination appears to look at you sympathetically, then coyly, looking down as though ashamed of something.
Sometimes a hallucination appears to think it owns the house but is quickly shouted down by another. Mostly it keeps quiet, trying to smile wisely. It thinks the house is real but the other hallucinations are not.
Hidden in the darkest corner of the cellar, near the weeper, a hallucination researches a fact-based system, emerging pale and awkward on national holidays, well-paid by hallucinations appearing in another house, over the hill and far away.
You lean on your window sill, shaking your head sadly, thinking that itís all quite crazy.
Thoughts, perceptions and memories in the brain are networks of neurons that fire together. Your idea of an inner being included.
The firings associate with responses from other organs in the body, such as the adrenals.
Neurons that fire together become wired together.
The firing does not persist but can be repeated after a rest.
Some networks are a sequence of firings, such as the algorithm for long division or navigating a familiar landscape by landmarks.
The whole creature is a perception of a situation, a reverberating recognition, and a personality to display the relationship. Another situation and another personality is displayed, as if the human being had a turret bearing a collection of personalities to face each situation.
At some point, there is nothing new. Each response has already been wired to a situation. New situations cannot be seen.
Deleting a relationship is amputation.
Each sapient has its own turret.
A central personality that consciously revolves the mechanical turret of personalities is not necessary. The whole creature merely poses a personality to a situation If he always turns the same face to us, we think he has integrity. We can posit a central personality but it is yet another construction, another tool on the turret. Young children do not know how to lie. At some time they discover the possibility of mendacity, an important step toward adulthood and a constructor of a hidden inner personality. All is fiction.
If accused of disintegrity, the whole creature responds by rotating a defensive personality into place to confront the accuser.
To say that there is an absolute reality and that you know what it is, is another personality, one that insists on a claim to knowledge. If the claim to knowledge is undermined, there is a brief shocking pause before a defensive personality is revolved into place to confront the offender. The pause is the ragged border between two personalities. It is a vulnerability, a wound.
In this way, the human creature can expose a lofty ideal one moment, kill you in the next, and then appear offended in court. In this way culture enforces its homogenization.
And in as much as globalization of empire is successful, billions of people can act the same.
Homo sapiens is the first species to be domesticated.
Nothing left to do but
to contemplate oneís personal finitude or
party like itís the end of the world, because
it is the end of the world, a global
Of the finitudes of the
personal kind, there are two. The
eventuality of your personal extinction,
religion and medical science notwithstanding,
is certain. No one on the planet is 200
years old, or even 150. The probability
of disappearing from the living increases with
age. You can probably identify about a
thousand people from your life and from
history out of the 20 billion that have ever
been. That's your probability of
You can probably identify about a thousand people from your life and from history out of the 20 billion that have ever been. That's your probability of fame.
The second kind of finitude: Before personal extinction, your limitations dominate your life. By the age of 20 or 30, most have settled into a world view that can be extended as they age but from which they will never emerge. You become who you are. Meanwhile the worldís fashions, driven by the appetites and ideals of youth, move on and you become a living fossil. Your world is ending, leaving you behind and, as the rate of cultural change accelerates, the loss becomes deniably obvious even to you. You and your kind, those who think and act as you do, are doomed to extinction, kept around to operate the machinery of their lives for as long as it works and thrown away with minimal ceremony.
Younger, hipper minds
have already emerged and have already taken
your place. Some are nice about
it. All are far more interested in their
own infinitude than anything you can do or
Denial of personal
obsolescence, pharmaceuticals legal and
otherwise, retention of the old illusions,
clumping together with the geriatric remnants
of your subculture are no refuge for the
honest observant. Nevertheless, they
will linger around the dwindling fire,
chanting the old slogans to the cold, ignorant
night, as if insistent repetition will save
A very few maintain
their optimism by changing, by learning new
ways of thinking and doing, by living smarter,
by communally recognizing and addressing the
hardening of their categories and
characteristics, by noticing with increasing
desperation that they are soon to be
forgotten, or by rejoicing in what they are
finding, ever Columbus discovering new worlds
to oppress, finally halting, stymied by the
incredible hugeness of the task.
Envy the wild animal,
incapable of the future. Confined to the
moment, it regards illness as an excuse to
rest and dies silently in seclusion or in
terror at the claw of the Other.
And pity the human
personality, doomed to mendacity, an angel,
really, appalled at the biological wreckage
piled at its feet, having nothing to say apart
from the ignored obvious.
Contradictions make nonsense of the statements containing them. This denial is fundamental to logic and perhaps a border that can be approached analytically.
It's going around that you can't prove a negative and I'm tempted to nod my head, finally in agreement, but first a point for me.
That means I'm permitted to dismiss regiments of statements, knocking them down like dominos, plowing swiftly through the dense mechanical jungle of the heavenly choir of advice I carry around, songs from the living and the dead, the ill-remembered and undocumented, all this enabling my bursting forth into the lucid and glorious knowledge of how things really are. I could invade with its weaponry, poring over statements founded on contradiction. I could assume a benevolent irony hiding a subterranean dream of ever larger dominions of mind.
But if you can't prove a negative, the proposition itself can't be proved. If you can prove it, it can't be true. And how do you know it's true if you can't prove it?
A paradox is the destructive intersection of doctrines, in that doctrines negate elements from each other, take exception on fine points, pass resolutions, the merged system becoming less rich, as objects are eliminated from the merged doctrine. Doctrines cause the problem of paradox. Analyze the statements, allowing for their development and criticism.
The premodern believed in 1 destination and 1
path to the destination. The modern believed
in 1 destination and many paths to it. To
the post-modern, there are only paths.
Anywhere is a destination.
The newest human is yet to be named. Many
try to retreat to a fundamental illusion but of
course that is unsupportable but it goes on more
or less successfully anyway.
Become conscious of the continuing fragmentation
and see the individual, the unsplittable atom of
humanity, breaking into a society of ephemeral
creatures whose existence must be doubted as there
is no one credentialed to affirm any existence at
The individual divides on self-examination.
The statement I am a clever person.
divides me as the person making the claim is
grammatically different from the person talked
about. Am I another consciousness hovering
over myself to make a judgement?
Self-references can lead to contradictions, which
is disallowed logically. I always lie.
cannot be true. If I always lie, then my
statement must be a lie and therefore not
true. The statement must be false to be
true, which is nonsense.
General Blownapart, Major Breakthrough and battalions of armchair warriors and talking heads claim it is in the US National Interest to punish the smallest countries that defy our foreign policy. Pump the audiences with hated images and crafted prose. Once the enemy is identified, the course is clear. After all, if any country (the smaller the more important!) were to end its compliance with American foreign policy, freedom might become contagious and spread to other countries. Avalanches of defiance! We can't lose influence.
A small, free country could itself become an imperial power and inflict constraints on us, the US. They could act exactly like us, the most dangerous political entity on the planet.
The threat could even become internal and the smallest groups of domestic free-thinkers could openly revolt, losing their domesticity, making alliances with each other and venturing into open attack.
A sullen, grumbling, beaten down, defeated populace is far better than a society free to defy us. Better to have a country in civil war or under the thumb of a ruthless and cruel dictator than to have a free people.
Thus we must continue to punish the population of vulnerable countries who defy our policy. People all over the world must fear the United State of America. War is peace. Invest your son.
Our own population must be repeatedly reproduced in kind, ever-ready to mobilize against the hated enemy that we create along with the soldiers to kill them.
Our own population must focus on the hated enemy so that they cannot see that we are the enemy of mankind.
Any domestic attack on our policies is a failure to support our troops. Dissent is treason.
Human beings have a indelible natural urge to invade and conquer. It is better to strike than to be struck.
The great homogenization that is compressing humanity into a manageable set of producer-consumer units is driven by ideological advertising that poses as a solution to each person making their way through the cultural labyrinth, aspiring to wealth and security. Wealth is the pie-in-the-sky toward which we gaze, drawing us into schools and workplaces, enforcing conformity on diversity, compressing the individual with all its glorious heritage of intellectual freedom into a replaceable cog in the global machine. The sky-pie is created by each person's participation in cultural conversation, each act of speech, each movie watched, each day attending classes, each moment of worship, each adulation of celebrity, each minute of each day. Before infancy and after the grave, we instruct each other, how to behave, what to think and who to hate. Despite our fascination with individual choice, we are becoming more and more alike, pretending to celebrate diversity while consuming it as advertisement, another excuse to continue the compression and eliminate diversity. Even the hateful enemies of global empire feed the flames into which all are passed and all are consumed, the imperial firestorm.
To get to the finer elements of physics and politics, I cannot take the great attractor with me.
American democratic republicanism has devolved into a meaningless set of election-rituals by our passive ignorance of billions of dollars of legal lobbying money, legal political-action committee money and the underground system of illegal bribery reaching for influence. It no longer matters who wins elections as all candidates who support business are supported. It only matters that whoever is elected owes a debt to his real constituency, his financiers.
The US Senate is required to report lobbying money destined to influence legislation. For 2015, 4.7 billion lobbying dollars was officially registered in the Senate database to influence legislation. The 4.7 billion dollars directly or indirectly influenced 535 congresspersons and 1 president. Each of the 536 elected officials was influenced by 8.7 million dollars of lobbying money in 2015, which is a fraction of the total money invested in government. With the SuperPAC money, 6 billion dollars leveraged the 3.8 trillion budget.
While Congress and the President make a big show of raging controversies over a very few hot issues, as though there is a deep divide between Democrats and Republicans, most bills sail easily through the legislative process via omnibus bills where each legislator is bought off with a clause that rewards his financial constituency. Each budget year, they always spend all the money and more. The influence money is used to propagandize the voters, a decreasing fraction of whom troop hopefully or resignedly to the polls and choose between politicians secretly promised to serve someone invisible to the voters. What actually happens to the money is masked by a circus of television commercials, televised cheerleading by the candidates and glossy fliers distributed to the voting public and destined unread for the recycling bin.
American government officials are bought and paid for at all levels. The Democratic and Republican parties are merely brands made by the same company. The voters are completely insulated from the actual machinery of the political economy by the illusion of political difference. We are dazzled by the spectacle and ignore the man at the door selling the tickets.
Here's the Senate website: http://www.senate.gov/legislative/Public_Disclosure/LDA_reports.htm
The barbaric beast that lurks within each human
being, each fraction of a society, laughs at the
misery he causes his hated enemy and scorns those
who sympathsize with his victims.
Humans are migratory and are accustomed to
encounter humans occupying area they wish to
invade. Sadistic pleasure is taken in
conquest, the most joyful expression of
The barbarian demands vengeance when
defied. The punishment for disloyalty is
exemplary, identifying and terrorizing the
constructed enemy while recruiting the uncertain
and forcing polarization.
The only barbarian thought is how to be effective
The barbarian is not returning because he has
Classes with power have their representatives make laws that protect the class's power and property and privilege.
Powerful classes charge their justice system with choosing which laws to enforce and which perpetrators to arrest, which protects the powerful from the errant knave who might use the law on the powerfully criminal.
Once in a while the powerful throw the public a sacrifice for show.
Woe to the singular individual who fails to think tribally, who tries to employ the techniques of formal analysis to the claim to know under scrutiny. It's better a millstone were tied around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than to bring new discoveries back to the tribe.
What is ridiculed must be false; what is boring or looks like unpaid work, what sounds unfamiliar, what does not meet the approval of the circle of friends must be laughed off.
Tribal thinking is the individual's poison of the unconscious, preventing original thought, turning analysis into a joke and making individuality impossible. The post-modern individual is a creation of public relations, covered in bumper stickers.
Handlers spend some money on a spectacle to establish a vocabulary that identifies the bad ideas. Then the public is polled to find out where and how much change was effected by how much money. Then the larger investment is made.
It's not just that public opinion is mass-produced. The public itself is manufactured.
Empire is the biggest tribe of all.
ďWeíve been deceived!Ē
creates a Them and an Us. The utterance
points a finger at the Deceivers, separates
the Deceived as victim and urges mobilization
against the Deceivers.
Of course the Deceived
have been complicit in the Deception all along
by looking the other way, by refusing to ask
questions, by preferring comfort over Truth
and by making distinctions only after we are
damaged in some way. When someone else
(another Them) is damaged, we ignore the
issue. But ďWe are the Deceivers!Ē
creates a singular Us. There is no one
else to blame but Us. The statement is
more accurate than ďWeíve been deceived!Ē
because we know we asked for victimhood with
our deliberate ignorance and should not be
surprised to get it. We participate in
Most accurate would be:
ďWe are the Deception!Ē which denies the
animations entirely, the created animi.
There is neither Them nor Us but only
fictions. Thereís nobody home.
are each of us templates that reify a fleeing
worldview. We consume received wisdom
and rebroadcast it, perpetuating and
redistributing the reifications into every
nook and cranny of culture so that they appear
universal and therefore true, so that we can
appear shocked and dismissive whenever anyone
dares to question our deeply-held
Universals become yet another vehicle for
The worldís policeman has a difficult job, made all the more so because of a chronic lack of appreciation on the part of the very people we serve. We have been protecting peoples all over the world from communism, fascism, labor unions, socialists, students, insurrectionists, terrorists, radical Islamists, Black Panthers, extremists, insurgents, ruthless dictators, revolutionaries, and even the misled people themselves.
Itís a wonder that we are
not exhausted by our efforts and that we
continue to soldier on.
For about a hundred thousand years, homo sapiens lived in small bands of less than 30 who knew each other well, attended all decisions, warred with some migrating tribes, intermarried with others, and traded directly or indirectly with many more. Each tribe distinguished itself by a more or less unique set of myths, rituals, sacred objects and totems that provided its upholders with an ideology with which to occupy its cerebral free time and kept the tribes apart, justifying their dispersal and regulating the carrying capacity of the land.
Population growth in an area was flat, as the humans hovered around the carrying capacity of the area. Over time, birth rate equaled the death rate. If new areas were invaded, the human population of the planet increased. Over the millennia, rarely, a new technology appeared that increased the food supply, somewhat offset by the technology's advantage in warfare, and increased the human biomass. Defeated tribes might join their closest relatives, merging their religion or perhaps disappearing without a trace. Most traces of these pre-ancient times have disappeared.
The religion and ethics of hunter-gatherers included intense loyalties and hatreds. One could be cast out of a society for failure of loyalty and to be an outcast in that time was fatal. Hatreds meant that the loyal were obliged to animate their hatred with murder and torture. At the same time, generosity to the loyal tended to diffuse animosities that arose within the loayl.
By about 12,000 BCE, all continents except Antarctica were occupied near the carrying capacity of the occupied land. About 5,000 BCE, animal and plant domestication evolved in some human cultures, which triggered a rise in the carrying capacity of the land. Agriculture appeared independently in Mesopotamia, Harappa, Mesoamerica, the Bantu migration, the Australasian migration, the Indo-European migration, and the Yellow river civilizations. This was the second great inflexion of human population on the planet, the first being the Paleolithic invasions of the 6 continents.
Agriculture increased human biomass and invited concentrations of population. Labor could be organized (which required organizers) to operate the various processes. Because the concentrated centers of agricultural production attracted tribes, the centers became poly-religious. The tribes brought with them the religions, their alliances, their enemies, their languages, in short everything that they had used to keep them apart.
The controlling elite who organized and profited from the labor found itself enforcing peace within the society of societies who attempted to conserve their interrelationships. Class-stratified laws were issued and in some cases written down. There are many examples of systems of laws written in concert with successful agrarian societies and it is easy to see their resemblance. They typically have in common the sublimation of vendetta, which is a natural instinct but is destructive. We use it to separate peoples and to damp down population toward the carrying capacity. Along with written law, great religions appeared in this period as enforced monotheisms tried to homogenize the populace. A new ethics arose as embodied in the laws and religions of the time.
Once again, human population increased toward its new carrying capacity and once again stabilized until the third great inflexion. Of course, new technologies appeared that slowly increased population, again offset by their utility in warfare and domination.
The third inflexion appeared with the industrial revolution as agriculture, manufacturing, and knowledge itself were mechanized. Once again, centers of production increased their population as farmers migrated to the cities. More people could be accommodated in larger and larger cities, which generated problems and solutions in public health. People began to eat better, live longer. We are now in this period in which world population will approach 9 billion humans, far exceeding the capacity of hunter-gatherer or agrarian technologies. Ethics for the middle-class is the ethics of choice among consumer products. We shop with the illusion that we are free, that we are not coerced into any behavior. In every time, philosophy follows the actuality of population, providing it with the cerebral tools and ideologies to justify its already established existence.
Populations inflexions eventually encountered their limits.
The next inflexion, to risk prophesy, could be the encounter with the new capacity. It is suggested that educated people naturally have smaller families. Humans have been responsible for the extinction of species. While apparently your chances of dying violently at the hands of another human are less than at any other time, we have seen huge murderous wars. There doesn't seem to be anyone in control, no person, no august and wise and powerful and informed body of humans. The middle-class is efficiently and unconsciously herded around the shopping labyrinth by profit-seekers who regulate government in their own interests. The ultimate regulator of a species is the great die-off as it is unable to adapt to circumstances.
We have eyes and intelligence and machines but we don't know what will happen. There is nobody home.
Ideology constructs flawed unities by creating classes whose members are not necessarily constrained by the classes into which the ideologue has placed them. The suspicious classes include people, races, genders, nations, ideals, centuries, and other ideologies.
The flawed classes embrace not only the content and objects of the ideology but, of critical importance, also the subject of the ideology: the constructed personality who learns, assumes, internalizes, and propagates the ideological contents and objects and thus reproduces the ideology as a cultural element, including its bearer. Humans are social animals who must reproduce their culture, must incessantly preach to the mob, must continue to construct each other.
What is the rhetoric of ideological construction? What is the aesthetics of the undressing of ideology? Does ideology appeal to the unconscious of its target subjects? If ideological texts are indicated by their contradictions, why not amplify the contradictions and see if anyone notices?
Do we ever misclassify a domain of information as ideology? Is it possible to be independent of ideology? Is the human the ideological animal? Is ideology really distinct from other discourses? More broadly, is discourse ever a distinct object?
If you can see a principle in its radical extreme, then all the mediocre implications become obvious.
To reject radical interpretation is to live in a flat world of untested mediocrities.
Personalities are like clothing in that they are
manufactured and worn. However,
personalities can be changed more often.
Unlike clothing, a personality does not require a
person wearing the personality. Personality
is like the clothing worn by a generic manikin for
display. The manikin does not call attention
to itself and thus only the clothing catches the
Like clothing, you are not allowed to be without
an appropriate personality.
Personalities display spontaneously in response
to external circumstance or, in the mad, internal
circumstance. To be mad is to be angry at
the wrong time, to respond only to your internal
states, to be independent of socially constructed
reality. In any case, there is no
requirement for an essential inner being.
Because actors articulate their roles with
directors, costumers, dramaturges and other
actors, 2 hidden personalities are
constructed. The personality of the
character is at center of the classical definition
of drama as that which eventually becomes revealed
through the words and actions on stage. The
audience finally discovers what the character
The personality of the actor is hidden deeper and
not displayed to the audience. To do so is
to break the 4th wall or even to invite the
audience onto the stage, to see the actor and
director at work, to see the actor commuting to
the theater, the actor's reactions to a current
event, providing an avenue for understanding of
Brecht's epic theater that embraces backstage and
offstage events, even a world history indicated
incidentally in the stage action.
A similar circumstance arises during the job
interview where the interviewee has dressed for
the occasion and has rehearsed sample interview
questions. To the extent that the candidate
articulates the process, hidden from the
interviewer, the process becomes conscious and a
deliberating inner candidate is constructed.
When not articulated, never expressed in words and
sentences, it remains in the more accessable
layers of the unconscious.
As always in relationships the questions arises:
who constructs who? When the personality
becomes conscious of itself, it fragments as the
constructed personality necessarily differs from
the personality observing the construction.
The self-reference conundra emerges: Is the
subject of the ennunciation the same as the
In this way, the person does not need an inner
being to construct the outer. The inner
being is merely the consciousness of the
I'm convinced that a common mode of theater, fiction, biography, movies and letters to the editor is the story of the individual, having been freed from universal authority, having been promised authority over oneself, but is yet unable to self-express either because of external pressure (family, neighborhood, government, addiction) or because the person has internalized an external authority and unconsciously enacts the narrative of the authority. Another common mode is the heroic action hero cartoon.
In Breaking Bad, the made-for-TV epic about a diffident high school teacher, expecting the world to be as generous as Walter White at last chooses, vehemently, and finally begins to live his life. But it's not easy and hence the extended tale.
Walter White has internalized a fear whose objects must be handled with deference, denying himself any profit or damage. He allows himself to be mistreated at his moonlight job. Playing it safe is not always the safest thing to do. White's trajectory as a character becomes high and long when he calls on the murdering Tuco with a pound of fulminate of mercury. He enters as a king, the one to whom everyone must defer. White subsumes his fear and then joins the entire heaving crowd of humanity in this temporal convulsion.
I expect the series will continue to produce surprises while extending the story.
The dividual and culture grip one another. Each tries to control, modify, ride upon, exploit the other.
Because the grip is mutual,. information flows both ways. Culture must channel the libertine, the libertarian and the liberal as the dividual must bear all of culture.
This means that eventually dividual and culture provide the undoing, the antithesis, the demise of their unity.
But the dividual is a chaotic assemblage, something like a culture. Is cultural membership a mingling of the voices within and without the dividual, a temporary merger between parties?
I again celebrate the handiness of my technological privileges, my connections, information, my people, accounts, entertainment, investments, donations, trivia, projects, jokes, trinkets, gadgets, real estate, jobs, calendars, friends and hacking opportunities.
In a sense, I even own the hated enemy in his manifold of evil, as cast so viciously in the global commercials for his death. I own them all, even love. Thus the dividual steps forth.
Adored at the very center of the world, choosing this over that, fondling the objects of desire, genuine, generous, I, me, the genius sails gloriously and fearfully into the future.
You know that each is a center of a world like yours. You can make yourself do it, you tell them. You chose to go to school and you did your homework. You were transformed by work and acquired compensation for your time and materials. You will go to work in the morning. You will do, intelligently, what you are told.
Heís found a lost friend on Facebook and expressed the joy of reunion, initially. Sheís at great distances from those she says she loves, driven by the requirement of privacy while reaching for everything, perfect solitude and community.
Culture is the reaching-out with captioned-pictures, bits of cunning cultural criticism aimed at common enemies, billions of tweets, emails, TV commercials, movies, bus stop benches, billboards human and otherwise, people on the corners with signs for pizza, peace, Jesus, the wind-blown scraps, uprooted stop signs, libraries, traffic police, thought police, bridges, insecurity guards, speed limits, honking horns, and ever the hateful driver in his armored pod watching malevolently.
Each torn off piece is caught far enough from the center of the grinding machine, which is all edge, barbed and sharp, sawing through sensitivity, searching for value, discarding else.
The machinery requires autonomous cogs, each with its device, each bearing its rhetoric. There is no difference between within and without.
Buy bullet-proof armor now. Recognize enemy thoughts as they morph and meme through your world. Be a karate cowboy, riding the machine, a significant branch of the human circuit, a governed autonomous agent contributing its vector to the sum of all social forces.
The truth is constituted
tribally. Easy-to-memorize slogans are
handed down from the lofty heights of tribal
management to be repeated. Some of the
brighter recipients improvise new slogans from a
cunning understanding of the old. The new
slogans are either approved or
disapproved. The cheapest risk is merely
to repeat the old sayings at every occasion and
await the mild applause.
If someone publically
contradicts the tribal convention, he will be at
least shouted down. No amount of logic,
evidence or possibility to the contrary will be
tolerated. Dissent reeks of uncertainty
and the tribe will not have it. Itís far
better to have erroneous certainty than any
degree of uncertainty. Uncertainty
suggests free-thinking, which must be
The epistemological effort (the
constitution of objective truth) is almost a
hopeless effort. The hope diminishes even
further when I realize that the many American
tribes are unifying under the imperial flag and
generating eagerly-repeated slogans far more
abundantly than can be contradicted. The
good news is that there are many targets for
skepticism. The bad news is that in the
empire, which is a political firestorm consuming
all fuel and all oxygen, dissenters merely
provide opportunities for disapproval, which
strengthens the sloganeers. Nothing
succeeds like success. Even our enemies,
especially the ones we have created with our
cruel iniquity, reinforce the unity of
I think I see this clearly but cannot receive any credit for it. I oppose everyone in all tribes. I am a tribe of one. I am not extraordinary. There are many of us. We can't see each other.
Nevertheless, having seen many
contradictions, I claim to see the possibility
of verifiable statements.
On the other hand, if I had to
tell the truth, Iíd have nothing to say.
This book attempts to destroy world views systematically, probably ineffective but thereís a risk and thatís not the worst of it. The book tries to destroy the holders of the view, those legions of mighty subjectivity, like a billion Atlasís upholding the immense world and every detail within.
The choosing consumer of goods and services, the eater of encyclopedia, the lover and the killer, this chooser of the supermarket, this particular encounter here and now between buyer and consumer, reader and writer, the fish and its lovely bait, all instances appearing to arise out of the singular person and the fertile field of choice, are mirages in currency.
There is hope because this book believes that the human individual can be free of its material, although perhaps that will be our undoing. After all, what if everyone could eliminate their enemies? There is nothing that does not swim out of the sea of dreams.
The metacozy congrues in every way to the tea cozy: a comfortable hidey-hole for the person otherwise harrowed out of shelter, retreating from the horror of the realization of the triumph of evil over good and oneís own ignorant silence.
The metacozy is neither true nor false but merely convenient. While other statements might live in the epistemological dimension, or the ethical, political, or esthetic dimension, the metacozy reposes comfortably numb in the snug space of convenience.
Most everything you can look at without outrage is a metacozy.
Art admits of more diversity. Even the most banal factory-produced painting hung over someoneís beer-stained couch in an anonymous living room with curtains always drawn, is an opportunity to become insane with awareness.
But donít think youíre special just because youíre crazy.
Metacozies keep the liberal progressives in loose harness, pretending to a laziness for compulsion, unlike the retrogressive conservatives, who pretend to be ever eager for work, even to the lash, especially if itís somebody else.
I have a place to stand where I canít stand paying attention.
Cultureís genius is not in what it purports to be, but in what it tries to deny.
There is not one dream that does not leap out of the heaving ocean of nightmare.
Left, cylinder seal impression from ancient Mesopotamia, apparently depicting the sacrifice of a child while the father looks on, hoping to substitute a lamb. Left to right: Father, soldier with weapon and foot on a lamb, priest, soldier with weapon, child kneeling, enthroned Be-el Molech with caduceus. From Les Pierres Gravees de la Haute-Asie: Recherches sur la Glyptique Orientale by M. Joachim Menant. Page 152. 1888. https://archive.org/details/lespierresgrave00menagoog.
In the Old Testament: "And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD." King James Bible, Leviticus 18:21.
Menant's book features many cylinder-seal impressions and frequently of a similar form. The giant is to the right sitting on a throne on a platform, towering over the other figures. The humbler people stand before him. The giant holds his right arm out and bent at the elbow, his face turned toward the eye of the beholder, right shoulder draped, kneeling child and standing adults. Animal and human sacrifice.
If we talk about you and me, right now, we can eliminate all the debates, all literary theory, history, science, personal experience, and instead focus on the very core of the truth: Itís about the relationships and the personalities constructed, which are merely defended by a hodge-podge of slogans, short speeches and hardware. Ideas are not the biggest weapons in the king-of-the-hill game. It is the personality.
Iíll tell you right now, I want to think of myself as well-informed, thoughtful, capable of understanding. I want to be thought of as smart. Itís not at all that I am essentially smart, that my reputation is built on solid epistemological ground, on anything anybody says.
As a critic, the work flies up like a clay pigeon. Next target please.
Dismissal is the easiest and most exciting act of intelligence. If I donít understand something, then it must not be understandable. I am the measure of all things.
As a writer I suppose that I have to earn your faith and the easiest is to already have earned the faith of someone else you already have faith in. Or you could dismiss us both. The reader is accessible to the author at the readerís pleasure. If the reader puts the book down the author must lie there with it and quietly too.
Being an outsider is a triumph of the loner.
No arrangement of signifiers can stop the play of meaning.
The social problem (and that is the only problem) must be Ďsolvedí again and again as culture evolves.
Not only does the animal have to be made to get out of bed in the morning to earn the money for the bed, and a lot else too. It must contribute to the stampede of physical exertion with a billion others. People are watching. There are metrics.
I am not contained so much as I am the cage.
Sin is in the knowledge of self and other, the guilt of seeing and being seen, the reverberation of observed scandal. Self-consciousness became shame. Sin is being apart. Sex and death are the supreme ontological scandals.
The consumer is the new domestic animal, bred, manufactured, in harness, in blinders, buying jokes with diplomas, dressed for work, distracted slightly by the perfect beach on the billboard along the dirty street in the city. He's kept for breeding, lubricated by faith in something, trudging morbidly between sex and violence, and discarded when useless.
Thatís not me up there on the escalator not looking around.
A play, actually, about a man writing a novel about a poet, very thoughtful, not on the ground here and now, just visiting, occasionally bored, killing time.
To the innermost man in the innermost story, this time and place were not important enough and neither were the random people, scurrying here and there, except him of course, because he had so much to do with someone else, elsewhere and another time.
Weíre so much looking forward to missing him when heís gone as thereís every chance of telling what will be then.
The self is formed in the moment by the observation of a work of art, requiring a more or less public comment by the observer, constructing the observer at the appropriate public distance from sex and violence, omnipresent art.
We are drawn to and isolated from the observed. The being-drawn-to and the isolation-from form a stable complimentary pair, each necessitating the other.
The observation of porn, where sex and violence are explicit, attaches the person to the work of art without sexual satisfaction. It's a movie, dry as a bone.
The observation of abstract-expressionist work devoid of recognizable objects requires the construction of a cerebral personality and an anti-intellectual person to ridicule them both.
There is no Ďisí but only formulation.
Social life is abrasive. It grinds at the surface, roughing off hunks of certainty and, with its many arms and many tools, chisels away at ideals and cleaves deep into the crown. I try to repair it with fantasy.
Wonder how to kill the pain, lie around it, fibbing your way into some familiar nest, a pretense to onetime joy, carefree before the cold, dry wind.
Words are lies that create personalities.
Words gesture, clutch, increase, gather references to materiality, claiming to be true, apprehending it, telling you all about it, creating the teacher creating the student.
The powerful do not need rights, as they have power.
Rights limit the power of the powerful. When do the powerful grant rights to the powerless?
The powerful would do away with all rights but they are not powerful enough.
Even the powerful retreat into their rights when offended.
Culture contains its arena. Victims and heroes and the screamers crowd in to see the spectacle.
Multiculturalism is the arena for the destruction of subculture. They parade in costume with their emblems of identification, the pride, the support. Cultures can only see each other in opposition. The parade, in exhibiting difference, makes it ordinary. When the opposition disappears, so does the culture.
Letís all accept each other and disappear. Letís destroy ourselves with celebration.
Include yourself, the individual, science, all thatís valued precious.
How does a nation go to war?
In particular, how does a nation of 300,000,000 literate individuals let itself be stampeded into a destructive and unjust war?
The answer can be found at the mall.
The literate individual, wishing to think itself at the center of the universe, a set of desires with legs, eyes to see, and hands to grasp, strolls down the aisles and corridors, the objects of desire arranged for display. Every detail has its classification, a name, a resemblance to something else and something unique to set it apart.
The mall creates and recreates the choosing individual. This is too vulgar, that too expensive, this is just right. Individual desire couples with the supplier to form a complimentary pair, buyer and seller, consumer and the consumed.
We must mount the treadmill together. The things for sale are desired by everyone. We reinforce each otherís pursuit of the objects of desire. We buy together. The mystery of being is solved by buying together.
Economic crisis occurs when the consumer turns from the object of desire, however reluctantly, and makes do with what she already has. Eventually it might become acceptable to sit with your fellow on the sidewalk, share a bottle of wine, and allow new identities to take their places.
As in commerce, so in war. The individual angst, that insatiable hunger, that collection of desires that are never fulfilled but merely deferred, will have its enemy and its hero. Enemies create heroes. Thus the hated object reinforces mob coalescence. Millions of singular disorganized disappointments collect around a common enemy and finally we are together again.
I know this. You know this. Itís not a new story at all.
But what did I do about it? I waved and honked my horn in support of some demonstrators, felt superior to the murderous fools running the government, and drove on to work.
Our government killed about 1,000,000 Iraqi civilians in the Gulf Wars, mostly with bombs and starvation. How much in taxes did I pay? How much did the War Department spend per death?
How many people did I kill? We craved our enemies into existence, praying for them to show their hated faces. We did everything we could to make it happen.
Osama Bin Laden was the best thing that happened to the military-industrial complex since Communism.
The adoption of language pushes the named desired object out of reach where lives only between words.
Now we only get to talk about nature, demand it, watch it on TV.
A complimentary pair, each necessary to other: The Word and the Thing Itself. They cleave to each other.
The romantic must mourn the ever-receding details of nature and the realist at the opening up of the truth of investigation.
No wonder we try to paint and no wonder we fail.
Letís just splash around!
The pollsters tell the politicians what the voters want to hear and so they race around their district trying to outdo each other in telling us what we want to hear. Then we select the best liar out of the bunch.
Naturally, we forget the lies because we just wanted to be near the great man or to be seen agreeing with him anyway, and becoming somebody too.
Or to be disagreeing, to oppose him in stilted terms, to issue cunning statements.
All politicians always lie anyway and remembering who said what is too much work for no pay at all.
At the end of every election thereís celebrity roast where they repeat some of the better lies and have a good laugh. They dress in tuxedoes. Itís very expensive and they never invite me.
Iím so superior to all this.
I donít believe in knowledge anymore. Itís so crude compared to whatís actually happening.
To have knowledge is to have a reputation, to have been acknowledged by some august committee perhaps or someone else who is reputed to know.
Is there anything but reputation?
How can it be about the self with the wreckage of so many others lying around?
Fragmentation of personality reduces to a collection of desiring memes echoing through channels of cultural communication toward other points of origin and reflection.
What consumes and reproduces, what survives its poisons, and what must have its meal, succeeds in determining its presence.
The crazy-quilted system of power will step forth.
I thought they loved me, so much so that I walked in the thought of their love, which gave me the boldness to confront the cruel ignorance of the mob.
And when he kissed me, as is our custom, I was surprised at his coldness. I turned and looked at him. It was as if to inform me that he did not love me. In their gluttony, no one noticed. No one loved me.
It took a minute or two for the nausea to be replaced by the dread that I was utterly unloved, unknown even, that the mob would soon know of my vulnerable singularity and that they would soon kill me.
Now there was nothing in the world with which I could commune. Earth, which had previously contained, on occasion, the possibility of redemption, became a place of torment where the only possibilities were to kill with pleasure or die in fear.
I suppose I could have lifted my eyes above the mundane chaos but, being all alone, abandoned, rejected, condemned, doomed, damned even, and having accumulated many hateful enemies in my boldness, I had not the strength of faith.
If I could no longer have faith in things, how could I have faith in nothing at all?
It is at that point I found myself on the bare stage of the theatre of cruelty with no one in the audience
Selflessness is an old idea, one of the many possible intentions of some systems of meditation and ascetics.
These are even more difficult to achieve in today's self-centered culture. Ego-psychology, self-esteem, career-progress, the assumption of world-view, all the ephemeral rewards of individualism form up the self as an essential core of existence so much so that there is no alternative. Any other mode of existence is unthinkable. Rather than minimize the self, the modern individual is likely to demand a reward or a medal or a title, a certification that he has abandoned the self, and consequently the self achieves monumental size.
I once heard a person calling into a talk radio show on Buddhism and preambling extensively about his 34 years of experience with the subject, obviously wanting major respect. I supposed that he was stuck on himself and, while he probably learned some important formulations, he was utterly incapable of following his own advice. If you see Buddha on the path, kill him.
Even if you did achieve selflessness, someone else might notice it, adopt you into their pantheon of saints, talk about you, worship your precious phrases. What a great burden! Shucking off the load would probably irritate your followers and eventually they would have to kill you. The killers would fade away but memory and records of the event might survive to build up a fictive history with you at the center, utterly misunderstood.
The threat to the self by destroying the author is likely to defer the creation of the self, which fails to assemble in relation to the author but will assemble in the absence of the author as an even smarter person, akin to the reader who dismisses the writer; the self once again appears as an intellectual giant demanding recognition and validation and respect.
How can we write without creating the author or the reader? How can we focus on content and let go of the honoraria of achievement in the face of the understanding of the difficult to understand? The ad hominem embrace is just as distracting as the ad hominem attack.
One way is cunningly to harass the authorís multiple personalities on the page, continuing to interfere with the budding relationship and then, anticipating the appearance of the reader, to deal a mortal blow to the neonate.
The bigger the committee, the stupider its imagination. When it gets to the size of a nation, it has the brain of an amoeba. Does it know whatís good to eat, whatís already been eaten and whatís going to eat it. Does it make mistakes.
I try to stay out of its way while being part of it at the same time. Inasmuch as I am composed of ideas, I am its product. Its rider. Its parasite.
Itís not about the woman, itís her dress and itís not the dress, itís the weather.
Refer elsewhere to the range of excellent possibilities about the evolution of sex.
One of them views the primal cell as a symbiont who patiently accumulated a nucleus, mitochondria, cilia, flagella, pieces of DNA and the complex apparatus needed for acquiring variation. If imported whole it would have its own set of functions built-in and only needed to be put to work.
A picture emerges of a beast that rummages through its victims, improving itself not so much by merely breaking the victimís tissues down to amino acids and sugars, but by taking an organ or even the whole victim intact.
Thus the voracious one-celled creature acquired a nucleus, cilia, flagella, mitochondria, chloroplasts and the machinery of sexual fertilization as well as a hidden battery of snips of junk DNA that might prove to useful sooner or later, a chimera that leaped into the evolutionary future by hijacking other organisms. This is the creature we are about to release into the heavens.
Sex is not a necessity of reproduction but a way of throwing the dice to create a more varied next generation. Bacteria are highly promiscuous in that they can pick up stray pieces of DNA from its environment. Paramecia conjugate by getting up close and exchanging genetic information. Later, when the cell divides the new genes will be present. Some genes jump gratuitously around. Bdelloid rotifers have only one gender and reproduce via parthogenesis. They emerge from their desiccated state and pick up stray pieces of DNA from their environment, ensuring a genetic diversity in the next generation. Some aphids reproduce by cloning when food is abundant, creating an explosion of new, identical creatures, and fall back to sexual reproduction when times are not so good.
Asexual reproduction tends to a swift (millions of years) demise of a species. Genetic drift slowly accumulates random mutations that doom the cloned species. Asexual reproduction tends to pass on parasites to the next generation. It also cannot remove bad genes through the dominant/recessive process.
Sexual reproduction tends to ameliorate the drift by pairing off recessive and dominant genes, the former tending to kill itself off when matched with the same gene from both parents. Thus an individual can carry dangerous genes and not express them. Sexually reproducing species tend toward extinction, although at a slower rate, because new successful variants appear, displacing the parent species.
Sometimes I dream of the past, wallowing indulgently in some pleasant corner of my memory or frozen in the terror of an unendurable nightmare.
These are my memories, which reside in networks of neurons and neurotransmitters and neuroinhibitors and endocrine secretions all charging more or less in a hurry around the body. The stuff of dreams.
Itís possible for me to spend so much time in the past, worshipping my memories, editing them to make them better (or worse) or reading the ancients as if they bore prescient solutions for me but unfortunately have no traction in the present. In the moment, I become a solitary prophetic stranger. Iím not going anywhen but now.
And when I compare memories with someone else who was there then, who shared the experience of that time and place, we donít have the same story and canít be convinced otherwise.
I know people with whom I can edit the story, getting the pseudo-facts straight, correcting each other if we make it a joke.
Those we trust to get it straight, the historians, have disagreements on fact and interpretation.
Each generation must have its history of the world, not so much because the events of history changed or even because new discoveries have been made, but because we think that we have a better view of it, being so much smarter than those who were actually there or anybody who proceeded us, because we ourselves change and need a new interpretation to prop up our new personality. Each generation, each person is a position from which to judge received wisdom. We insist on possessing the past.
Read a few
pages of Gibbonsí Decline and
Fall and itís
easy to say that he supported imperial
I dream that Queen Elizabeth I must have been a liberal democrat feminist. Shakespeare, despite his sexism, monarchism, and racism must have been a social liberal. Line up to claim them for your cause. Is the marketing effective? Thatís the only question.
I much prefer the future! They know me there. Iím famous, known as strong, virtuous. My benedictions blessing the pleased recipients, my prognostications opening their eyes in amazement, my malevolence fulminating across the centuries causing fear and trembling and the exodus of peoples.
Iím not stuck in the present. Especially not the instantaneous present because the instant is too short to be seen but at best a kind of smeared moment. Apparently the neuronal state takes some time to build and decay, leaving the impression of persistence (On what? On persistence? The persistence of persistence?).
Thereís the rub: I donít perceive so much as become by perceiving or by remembering, dreaming, running, falling, intending, and failing. I canít exist apart from my doing. Thereís nothing underneath the words and the words themselves defer meaning. Words demand the delivery of the objects of desire but make reality impossible. Everything breaks down under analysis.
So letís keep quiet about it and maybe no one will notice the nothingness.
We invade the future and the past and the present with our ideals. In this way, we demonstrate our control.
We come to be when we drive our ideas like a conquering army toward the poorly-defended.
We come to be as a mutually-supported tribe, driven closer still by the identification of a mythical enemy to be invaded.
We conflate Ďisí with Ďshouldí but there is no Ďisí on the ground and Ďshouldí (being a wish) canít be on the ground either.
For the thinking being, the object of desire is dependent on agile perception, value, and investment. For all practical purposes, the object is a figment despite its materiality.
Thus the material is in the grasp of the immaterial.
When I think of myself as evil, I am profoundly distressed, which is too painful for one devoted to oneís self, to oneís good opinions of oneís self, and to oneís primal desire to be a contributing member of a larger community and to benefit from its good opinions of me.
However, as a philosopher who prefers the truth over membership, good feeling, or opinion, distress comes along with the job. In fact distress can be an indicator that I am finally thinking outside of the box, that I am more concerned with what is true or false than a sense of belonging. The risk is in being an outsider, to be rejected out of hand, to be labeled, to be left behind as the dynamic human herd moves on to the better and brighter future. Iím tempted to draw myself up and salute the flag.
Yet history is the story of the greatest crimes.
The United States of America is a latter day expansion of Indo-European people.
If we are not as bad as the very worst, then we are good.
The appeals for justice in the face of cruelty can be found posted here and there competing with raucous musical events.
The plea advertises the victim and I impulsively feel like joining. Itís the posterís fault. It wakes me with suffering, stands me up with the identification of the enemy, and then mobilizes me to action. And with mobilization there is the propaganda to keep it going, certified membership in a progressive group, training, rules, enforcement of rules, and finally the glory of seeing our appointed enemies punished and my name on a list of the glorious.
Groups tend to use similar techniques to organize and become effective. Why not. If it works, buy it. If we fail, we fail to be seen. We have to be seen to be.
If you campaign against capital punishment long enough and wide enough and successfully, you will eventually find yourself killing someone.
Itís not so much that we live in a world of myth but that we live in a world of opposing myths that are really very similar, alike in their differences, persistent, and socially clung to in the face of a recognizable enemy. Myths are fantastic little stories of combat, of winning and losing. Our individual beings resonate at the ritual narration of the myth. They are, as it were, a mirror up to nature, an object fascinated by its image, a yearning in love with an irredeemable absence, the insatiable being that cannot be.
Itís not about true and false, good or bad, beautiful or not or even political correctness, which is hard to see and which fails often enough.
Itís about me and my gang.
A bank in the western US has copied the grizzly bear from the California state flag as its icon and simultaneously there are real pictures of this animal everywhere in the bank, munching wild blueberries in a natural paradise, waiting patiently by a lovely and pure rushing stream back-grounded by lofty snow-covered peaks and a clear blue sky.
The graphics donít show the look in the eye of a bloody deer about to be torn, the fish being eaten alive, or the male grizzly killing every cub he encounters to have his way with the female.
The bank has also provided stuffed teddy bears as gifts to new account holders. Perhaps some of them find their way into the beds of children. Nature is not just beautiful but cute and cuddly too.
has been exterminated in the
Thus we can be proud to be for something one minute and proud to be against it the next. We can be independent. Our identities can form up gratuitously. The supermarket doesnít care which product you choose but only that you choose something, that you become a choosing consumer, wise, literate, impulsive, a genius of choice.
And thus we are held in place, culturally, by paradoxes.
Language cannot express thought. Language can only allow us to demand. In conversation, the demands are related gratuitously, supplemented, adjusted, corrected, until the interlocutors nod, which means that they hear each other, and possibly agree to some action at some other place and time, unless it requires an unrequited sacrifice.
Thus yet another transcendental truth dissolves under analysis. What holds it together?
When will the high center fall?
After boasting of putting fascism in its grave, the US tried to cleanse itself of all aberration.
Art must be about reassurance, which means improvising on the usual themes, letting the public pay to be fooled into the what-ever-will-be-will-be daydream, indulging their sweet teeth, and the next day back to police work, factory work or off to war. The movies are an industry among industries, cranking out their commodities for sale, cranking out choosing-beings by the audience-full.
The story writer constructs within the norm of myth and the philosopher destroys the myth.
Then they trade roles.
As citizens, our job of social work is to put the tragedy of the human condition behind us and go back to material work. Console, explain, mourn, grieve and express and finally memorialize it with all the rest. Look up from your confused grief to the public figure speaking to tell you what to think.
Sooner or later, each tragedy is converted to a bumper sticker. We must have our hollowed-out platitudes and exhausted clichťs to tell each other.
We canít face the secret of the ages, which is that humanity is inhumanly cruel, a marauding omnivore happiest at discovering the vulnerable other.
There will be 9 billion of us soon. Other species will disappear, indigenous cultures will fade away, we will have a war or two each generation to keep the technology sharp, and all will be propped up by dreams of progress against a hated enemy.
Give the child a rose for remembrance but let it be without thorns so it can't be noticed.
Of course Iíd like to live in the beautiful future. Itís what we tell the kids, if we have a job.
Itís what keeps us going to work, buying major appliances, and reproducing our world view.
Fantasy insulates us from the horror of the human experience, which continues to pile its carnal wreckage at our feet. Incessant warfare, mechanized slaughter, elimination of indigenous cultures, extinctions of plants and animals.
Great horrors preceded the human invasion. Mass extinctions label the boundaries of geological time. Who will label our demise?
The beautiful future protects us from the horrors of the past and the greater horror to come. The price is denial and a few bucks.
All the systems of facts of science, the facts of history, the theorems of math, the perceptions of people, and the hard objects we stumble upon are handled as concepts.
What description exactly equals what it describes?
Materialism is an idea weighing no more than the idea of a unicorn.
I believe that humans live in a constructed world composed of myths, propaganda, lies, half-truths, ideas, imagined social relationships, and dreams of the individual itself.
I believe that I will disappear without a trace. I suppose I might leave some ashes but ashes get discarded and monuments eventually are reused for their stone.
Perhaps Iíll leave behind some art to be thrown away.
Iíd like to be exceptional but given the few famous historical figures and their works that come to my mind compared to all who have ever been, the odds on fame are low. I will be one of 9 billion contemporaries, at least some of whom are very creative and interesting people. Hardly any of them know me and I hardly know any of them except through the news, which is devoted to myth.
Whatever I believe about myself and the world will disappear when I disappear.
Perhaps science will save me, allow me to live longer, but sooner or later a fatal accident will happen. If Iím careful enough, Iíll die of boredom.
Even if I have a genius for life, who I am now is not likely to be who I am a thousand years from now any more than I now resemble myself as a child.
I suppose I might make some anonymous contribution to my culture but cultures come and go, leaving crumbling ruins and undecipherable scripts. Most folks now donít care much about the past. History will dissolve me.
Even the earth, that cracked crust covering a ball of molten rock, even that will disappear as the sun grows.
Even in some science-fiction imagination whereby future generations carry my name etched in golden plates beyond the death of the sun, beyond the heat-death of the universe, even if they were so incredibly devoted to my memory of my reputation, I couldnít possibly know any of that now. And after all, how could they possibly get it right? Writing is the dregs of thought.
Perhaps Iím wrong about the gods; I donít think Iím right about very much. But even so, why would a god of all of space and time and matter and energy care about me or us or even our own plain little corner of the universe?
Thatís what I believe but thatís not how I live.
I live in a world of beliefs, expectations, words, ideas, dreams, plans, conversations, memories, fantasies, histories, scientific theories, nightmares, moonrises, parties, families, phobias, injuries, pleasures, musicians, paintings, movies, enemies, jokes, and paradoxes that evolve too fast to be analyzed. My life contains beliefs and is not contained by them.
A belief is one of the many props of personality, one of the weapons with which the person defends the emptiness of the inner being hungering for dominance over the equally empty Other.
The day is coming when a single carrot freshly observed will set off a revolution.
-- Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)
The quote became the motto of Single Carrot Theater in Baltimore, Maryland, started by some college grads who went shopping for a city to create their own radically beautiful work.
The content of Cezanneís quote is a beautiful bit of idealism pulled out of the painterís ever-changing view of nature. Cezanne painted dozens of versions of Mont Sainte-Victoire, suggesting that there were an endless variety of interpretations with which we could approach complex objects in our world.
Was he only talking about art or about us in general? The many who quote him are applying the principle widely.
He said Ďthe day is comingí because we are not yet at the point when fresh observation will cause a wide, social revolution. I suppose that we can have modest revolutions when we freshly observe our world.
I suppose that in an empire, no revolution can succeed. Spartacus started a slave revolt with thousands of resourceful and committed stakeholders knowing that failure meant death. They won some ground but the Romans eventually analyzed the situation, organized its resources, hired the best commanders of the best legions around, executed the plans, captured and hung the rebelís bodies by the thousands on crosses along the Via Appia as a lesson to all those who would dare to have an original idea that did not further the ominous creep of empire. An empire is that which survives revolutions.
Of course, empires eventually crumble away and something must patiently chip away at their foundations to make them go away. The quote strikes me sympathetically. Fresh observances are exhilarating and revolutions can be wonderful for their survivors. When in Baltimore, check out Single Carrot. http://singlecarrot.com/
In the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney tried to free himself of male sexism by claiming that he had assembled ďÖa binder full of women...Ē to be recruited for high positions, and so we should elect him president.
He was immediately thumped in the media for this clumsy attempt to get with it, prompting us liberals to congratulate ourselves on how far we had come since the womenís suffrage movement less than a hundred years ago. Condescending infractions in speech were now recognized and punished immediately.
same time I learned that the pornography
business was now a bigger industry, in the
So we successfully demand public respect of women while simultaneously tolerate private disrespect, subjection, objectification and abuse. We've come such a long way!
Thereís a great shortage of Isms and their Ists and yet hereís another to load your into your gun. After all, the postmodern must be accurate with all weapons. We must be seen using one thing to destroy another.
Weíve had Structuralism for decades, whereby domains of information are analyzed by elements and operations into closed games that can model complex systems, such as language or math or theatre.
It was cute but Deconstruction undermined the hard objects that structuralists depended on. Language and its everyday exemplars escaped meaningful analysis. Words morphed around and even turned into you, dear reader, as you magically turned into them. In the pursuit of meaning, words and phrases lead to other words and phrases, stopping here and there semantically, on and on, without closure, without foundation. No arrangement of signifiers can stop the play of meaning.
The Constructivist has reasoned that if everything breaks down on analysis, then anything can be built synthetically. Build forward into the future with models and classes of models. We live in a verbal environment with the freedom to navigate the preposterous.
So letís have Destructionalism where clever critics make names for themselves by undermining any and every structure and anti-structure that comes down the pike.
Applicants for the job must have an agile grasp of satire, sarcasm, propositional calculus, history, science, marketing, as well as black belts in literature and criticism, and have a proven record of street fighting. Documented on-the-ground financial success in business, sport, academia and relationships a plus.
If itís been heard of before, roll your eyes. If itís already got a name, turn away and pretend to barf.
Previous critics havenít gone far enough.
And that goes for your little nihilist too.
By breaking meaning. By straining syntax. Ridiculing structure. By creating outlandish signs to be shot-up by happy vandals. This is an artistic project.
By making targets out of classes. By including in every new class its own undoing. Its own bulls-eye at least. Context is a container of symbols. The shell of myself becomes visible.
Weíre not about the truth, except in a rhetorical way.
Weíre not about righteousness, except in a selfish way.
Weíre not about beauty, except in a perverse way.
And weíre not about political expediency, except that is how we live our lives.
Weíre about understanding, which might use the above tools, but really we climb around the dynamically classified memory of our own experience, things weíve heard and said. We not only purport to navigate our history; we are the navigation of our history.
Time was, the gleeful destructionist was fully-employed, as there was no shortage of vulnerable castles with crumbling foundations, teetering ideals, cracked dogmas, dazed theists wandering through the ruins looking for foundations, displaced preachers, as well as deserters and traitors and renegades, all for sale cheap.
Today, the destructionist is underemployed mainly because everything has already been laughed to pieces, demolished in the continual apocalypse of post-modern-life. They have nothing more fruitful to do than comb through the rubble for some fragment of an imitation of something once rumored to be mildly sacred. When Rome punished Carthage, not one stone was to touch another. We've disallowed the stones themselves.
Now the diligent has nothing to do but sit in an uneasy circle with colleagues, hoping that someone might blunder into creating something.
Least likely, weíll seriously challenge the vast edifice of the imperial corporation, its outer ramparts bolstered against explosive attack, its inner nest bristling with intelligent firepower, its jocular paladins delighted in finding an intruder. For the destructionist, challenging the mightiest edifice would be severe sacrifice, which is anathema to the individualist clinging to his tenuous existence.
And here I am, claiming to be their exponent while living like a tiny parasitic fungus with a billion others beneath the nail of one of the smaller toes of the smallest giant while complaining about the accommodations.
And being underpaid as well.
In post-modern times, there can be no first principles.
There can only be assumptions and subterranean suppositions, derived theories and explanations that lead to the construction of models, some more or less well-defended.
We value the constructions when they are internally coherent (structuralism) or correspond to observations of physical reality (science). Or when they are profitable or ironic or disgusting or insulting or self-aggrandizing or entertaining. We value with and independent of reason. We become by valuing.
Humans are religious animals. In its general sense, religion wires us into a connected communal existence.
If we identify particular relationships between self and context we have a matrix.
Arbitrarily, a religion is a relationship among myth, ritual, sacred objects and animus. There could be 3 or 5 or 12 or 1 or 2 or none.
The more or less syllogistic ex post facto ideology that supports the religions could be included as a fifth element but is instead included in the matrix as a sacred object to be handled with reverence during ritual. Or it could be said that man is an ideological animal, kick religion out of the formulation, and start over.
Discourse, which is what we say about a topic, is the connective that wires us in the matrix. Humans are discursive animals and that the discourses are in constant flux.
Feel free to make your own archetypal model. Using your model to identify and detail many examples. Talk about each of the examples formally, as examples of your model, and then informally, developing implications. Especially develop its vulnerabilities. Opposition to the matrix is vital.
In Spy, Melissa McCarthy plays Agent Susan Cooper, a CIA secretary sent to the field to save New York City from nuclear terrorists, displaying the conventional male attributes of the world-class martial artist, a setup we've seen in a hundred of similar movies.
Agent Cooper breaks the formula by re-stereotyping herself as a man, which creates the primary joke in the movie She defeats the Forces of Evil while putting many out of their misery and cursing like a truck driver. Allison Janney transforms Elaine Crocker, Agent Cooper's tough boss, into the generic tough guy seen everywhere on crime shows.
nameless men hover around like venomous drones
to kill or be killed. I got to see 20 or
30 of them murdered, usually by gunshot.
Candy has already prepared us for Agent Cooper:
a naively wholesome, naturally generous,
indelibly sentimental and dangerous when
agitated person. The non-sexual slapstick
looks to be targeting grade-schoolers.
Without saying so, the movie accepts the
goodness and greatness of imperial America, that
only the American military should have nuclear
weapons, that the English are bumbling
assistants in need of rescue, and that if we
could only get the bad guys to kill each other
off, weíd save everybody a lot of trouble.
More unconscious cheerleading for empire.
I feel so left out. I needed an antidote
to Spy and so I watched Frederico
I needed an antidote
to Spy and so I watched Frederico
But first, I thought I'd try to compare them fairly.
is about a film director who cannot begin to
make the movie but creates the movie that we are
watching. The movie criticizes itself in
that the references to the
movie-within-the-movie also refer to the outer
movie ironically. The Intellectual Critic
complains that the inner movie lacks the
convenient foundation provided by classical and
modern art while being ignorant of the outer
movie that includes his commentary. Spy
criticizes action movies by comic ridicule,
bludgeoning, and gunfire. Both movies
have a comic surface and both take something
hidden seriously: Spy the sacred
greatness of America and 8Ĺ the
sacred-profanity of Italian art.
criticizes action movies by comic ridicule,
bludgeoning, and gunfire. Both movies
have a comic surface and both take something
hidden seriously: Spy the sacred
greatness of America and 8Ĺ the
sacred-profanity of Italian art.
movies play with gender. In 8Ĺ,
Guido Anselmi is trapped within his maleness. Agent Cooper
breaks the stereotype of dowdy American
womanhood by becoming an action hero in a house
dress. Both movies are in orbit around the
distant objects of sexual desire. 8Ĺ
justifies its existence with art while Spy
justifies itself with American
is used for its comic affect. The short career of
her first enemy agent was an inverse of
seduction and ends in his impalement.
The movie's unconscious flag-waving
narrows its scope. Some actions are
obvious and others subliminal.
its large, well-oriented cast, 8Ĺ is
epic theater exposing the paradoxes of
postmodern life. His great movie must have
no form, content or essence. Guido is
always on his way to the theatre without ever
getting there and drags the whole world in with
Intellectual Critic tries to allude grandly to
classical and modern art but he is already
encapsulated in his role and cannot be taken
seriously. The characters plead powerfully
for something precious from Guido, who must
contain their desires or lose control of the
water-carrier dances a clumsy dance to audition
for the inner-movie and finds himself in the
outer. The actresses in their beauty want
the big parts while already showing their
passion for all to see. The self-important
executives depend on an artist they cannot
Children jump up and down in the
pre-sexual joy at being around the action. Guido
must ignore but never abandon his wife. He
must love but never be seen with his mistress. Saraghina
be beautiful and grotesque. All
love him and he is utterly alone.
Both these movies are vital to their culture, which must reproduce itself by the persistent actions of each of its members, teaching one another the ideology with which to articulate the world and even inventing the person to bear the ideological load. While navigating the institutions and events, we stamp each other with personality. Spy and 8Ĺ reproduce roles available from our larger culture. The naked human hungers for imprint. We consume the personalities of celebrities and wear them as our own.
Spy is a guy-movie in that Agent Cooper is the male action hero and a gal-movie in that Agent Cooper is the strong, resourceful woman who longs for a much-too-handsome man and must suffer before the mirror for her failure. It's a guy movie because tribes of men heroically possess and exercise the means of power and some of the men have some of the women. 8Ĺ depicts Guido Anselmi as having the heroic task but cannot imagine the movie he has promised to make. He doubts every avenue to success. He fails to navigate the system of obstacles.
The two movies are as similar as 2 bricks in a wall. There are multitudes of gender-oriented personalities. Men and women try to consume each other while pursuing other objects of desire through the cityscape. The actual act of consumption must be delayed until the end of the story. It's about the chase. We consume the simulated disasters from the comfort of plush chairs, having been recreated by the producers of the shows who charge us for the service of being in a familiar mode, thus maintaining our culture with vicarious adventure that keeps us off the streets and provides us with movies to criticize.
A dialectical method bifurcates the judgment about a proposition. The branch to be explored has 1 of 2 opposing values, and only those 2, and no merging of the 2 in an endless diversity.
True/False is the first sharpening of Occam's Razor, which permits a swift navigation through fewer possibilities at the expense of having possibly eliminated the correct answer. Maybe the hand's not in the cards. Can't be talked about. The bias is programmed into the definitions and the founding conditions of our argument. Possibilities outside of the bias are not talked about and thus become unconscious and eventually forgotten, even eagerly in social domains.
The manifold results, the many hedged cases and their trail of destruction expose our logic and evidence, the details exciting a few, what is threatened and killed recruit more as the hominids take sides and hate with the enemy.
All that is left is the hatred and its residue, the ashes of the destroyed and the ghosts of what can't even be talked about.
It's important for each and every one of us to be on patrol and when circumstances warrant, to put a happy face on our good and great country. When abroad, buy the children off with penny-candy. The aristocracy will cost a little more.
And bring a church with you. The conquistador always brings his church.
This book is about the co-development of the human personality with culture, population increase, and technology. Rather than having a nature or an essential core of being, humans develop personalities that enable them to interact with each other. During the great population and technological changes throughout the human event, the norm of personality also evolved.
Each personís personalities develop from infancy. It cannot be that all newborns have the same personality. It cannot be that all babies are born democrats and, if not interfered with, continue to develop democratic ideals unless polluted by autocratic impositions. It cannot be that a single personality type fits all cultures. Some cultures are autocratic while others are egalitarian. All cultures contain islands of both types. It might be that a given culture rejects all impositions.
The hierarchal personality, bound to the land or a trade or a person, able to read the few symbols needed for the job, lived somewhere in the more or less stable pyramid of social power. You had someone telling you what to do and probably had someone to order around as well.
Owned by kings, barons owned their peasants as fathers owned their wives and children. While broadcasting benevolence and virtue, every institution was just another landowning center of power, allied or at war with other centers, which kept everyone working and paying their taxes and supplying men and materials for commerce and war. The human biomass increased and invaded all continents.
Knowledge was kept in books written in dead languages guarded by authorities.
The Enlightenment freed some of humanity from the burden of authoritarian knowledge by making some privileges available to a larger group. More people could see the books and write their own. The discoveries in science and math were particularly portable, since so many of the experiences could be replicated and developed by anyone with a place to work.
Universities co-evolved with learning, multiplying the channels of knowledge propagation, expanding the freedom and wealth of the victors of the expansion. It looked like progress to some of the survivors. Human culture accelerated its evolution.
The individual co-evolved with the opening up of knowledge to operate and maintain the machinery of human culture, to produce, consume and trade its artifacts. Even the aristocracy was recreated. We became aware of the diversity of the human species and of nature too.
Many people got about as much education as they could handle. Then they got jobs and married and had children to lead through the labyrinth of the market, to point out the various objects of desire and then to take home and to consume, to empty the container so that more must be had so that they can grow up and go to school and so on. Thus the cultural ideology reproduces itself, bootstrapping into post-modernity where everything changes, and even change can stop. Everything is opening up, including the possibility of destroying ourselves.
There is a great homogenization happening among humans. More and more we are acting and dressing and talking and choosing and buying and learning and producing alike and the intimate corporate network is learning to produce and market not only their goods and services, not only their best-practices, but also their best practitioners. We are manufacturing types of people. We are manufacturing ourselves as educated producers and consumers of news, sport, spectacle, food, shelter, clothing, pets, health care, cosmetics, entertainment, pet supplies, gadgets, public assistance, heavy machinery and the objects of class and adornment.
While maintaining the vocabulary of the individual, we are becoming more and more alike. While insisting on the entire spectrum of choice from birth to death, while fiercely defending our opinions, while participating in every opportunity of democracy, we imitate our closest acquaintances, and the imitations propagate through every medium to every global corporate citizen. The simple act of walking down the street says volumes about who you think you are. Art writhes in cultural self-awareness, which is not necessarily beautiful but it tries to be something.
While continuing to use the vocabulary of the individual, we are becoming increasingly identical agents of the global technical empire. We manage protest with a best-practice. All art is preempted and sold back to the consumers by institutions already performing that service. If it catches your attention, it can be bought. Our worst enemies are employed to generate news and movies so we can repeatedly identify and demonize them so to build armies and machines to hunt and kill them.
In tandem with change, the new personality of the agile corporate citizen boldly steps forth. Highly mobile, able to perform an intersection of job descriptions, unencumbered by felonies or significant resume-gaps, somewhat new in town, university-educated but classically illiterate, able to hit the ground running, always looking for a job, good communication skills, detail-oriented, a good match, brilliant, in short, an enthusiastic agent for hire.
Universities are centers of power, reservoirs of teachings, and producers of the corporate citizen. The school system is designed not to open up the tenderly curious child to the universe of experience, not to create the individual with critical thinking skills, but to train him to sit and listen, to understand and execute directions, to work alone or in small groups, to assemble and observe the spectacle, to sing together, in short, to practice the skills needed by the global technical empire.
We are all invested in the status quo. The current process produces (but does not necessarily distribute) food, shelter, clothing, and entertainment to 7 billion humans, a biomass rivaled by no other species on the planet.
The empire is not a conspiracy because itís many conspiracies. There is no shortage of closed-door meetings, groups with privileged knowledge, proprietary documentation, patents and copyrights. Many cancel out others. The net motion is a vector sum of all its influences.
The empireís objectives are easy to read but we donít. Instead we publish insufferably generic mission statements and practice damage control when violating our mission. The best practices of public relations are found to be far cheaper than doing something substantive about a problem inconveniently brought to the public attention.
And by being technical it is not only because it uses technology but that the empire masters the best practices with and across the domains of human resources, mining, manufacturing, marketing, customer relations, enterprise resource planning, demand planning, government, education and all the dimensions of imperial opportunity. Our governing technology is the set of evolving techniques with which we manage our enterprises.
While the corporation has brilliant humans diligently working for it, as a whole, it is stupid. The larger the community, the less mobile it is. It has to reach a consensus as to what is good to eat, whatís going to eat it, whatís already been eaten to act on the world stage. Components sometimes fail to exercise good judgment. The merger is its equivalent to sex, which is yet another act of eating. Mergers acquire customers.
We are not going back to the pre-enlightenment hierarchal society with its petty autocratic personalities but moving forward into an illusion that constructs our personalities consistent with the global technical empire. The new personalities speak the vocabulary of the individual but the meaning has aligned not with the individual but with the corporate citizen. One is still encouraged to be an individual but to do so within the vast power structure of the universities, corporations and governments, all of which act like corporations. One exercises choice as a producer and consumer of products and in that exercise is constructed as the corporate personality.
One does not create oneself: those days are rapidly drawing to a close. Nor do the universities, corporations or governments construct you. You become constructed dynamically in the relationship. In this way, you can move from corporation to university to government, believing in a disparate set of paradigms, being a different person in different environments while bearing the illusion of personal integrity. Integrity is becoming ever more convenient, as it is the reward for participation and its language is common to the disparate industries.
The product of universities is not disembodied knowledge but particular kinds of people. The product of news shows is not the news but the legions of television watchers. The product of corporations is only partially their products: it is also the workers. The product of governments is not just the administration of its domain but its creatively obedient subjects. Thus we are created.
Thus the agile personality finds its place, once again, within its social network. The person is now a set of masks and costumes hiding the embarrassment of emptiness within. The emptiness is critical to the global empire because of its vacuity, which must be filled with the newest objects of desire, which must be purchased with money that is earned, which is produced by the job for which you are trained, which depends on the global market for goods and services.
Art, science, history, mathematics, public policy and individual freedom must all bow to the increasingly globalized and homogenized livelihoods of their human constituents. The larger components of the global technological corporations (the universities, corporations and governments) have discovered that identical techniques should be used in the administration of the disparate components. These techniques of administration include human resources, general accounting, marketing, supply chain, treasury management, customer relations management, public relations and infrastructure improvement.
On the lower level, itís a better employee-fit if the candidate has experience in the technique and the industry, but on the higher levels of senior management the industry is less important. The mastering of the techniques is of prime importance. Business school teaches the set of techniques independent of the particular industry. Agile employees hop from corporation to university to government, climbing up a step in terms of salary and responsibility with each move.
The post-modern power structures do not open in the same way that the component corporations, universities and governments opened during the Enlightenment, which opened a window on the universe of knowledge that was expanding in size and detail and that increasingly welcomed your participation.
Today, the universe of knowledge continues to expand but for the employee the opening is always within the corporate techniques and in their perfection, adaptation, and implementation.
The employee has the illusion of participating in an open field by contributing original solutions to the component in compliance with component policy. Awards, recognitions, and promotions are generously distributed. We are encouraged to think outside the box but always in service to the particular component that employs us.
Genuine original thinking is labeled quirky if only slightly distracting and grounds for disastrous dismissal when questioning fundamentals. Many contracts with employees specify that the employee can be dismissed if found to be acting against the companyís interests, even outside of working hours and off site. Whistle-blowers are always punished. Think courageously outside of one box but meekly within another.
Dissent among citizens is handled informally in several cunning ways.
Many people refuse to debate politics because of the controversy it engenders.
Secondly, the debates never recognize that opinions are deeply held. In fact, opinions are at the very core of the constructed person and are not changed by information. To change someoneís mind is to change who they are. Opinion is not a matter of fact but a matter of existence. And not only would you have to change your interlocutor, you would also have to get him to change all of his interlocutors, as like people tend to band together and radicals are clearly labeled and driven out.
Thirdly, debates tend to homogenize as someone holding radical opinions can be ostracized and boycotted. Even if tolerated, the toleration becomes a way for the group to label and marginalize the radical.
Fourthly, participation in larger groups, such as universities, corporations, and government agencies is subject to a filtering process that tends to eliminate people who express strange ideas. If you have your own opinion at variance with an expected norm, keep quiet about it. Cheer the mission of the organization sincerely.
The pattern of continuous improvement of technique governs post-modern civilization and necessarily leads to the great global homogenization. Everything is mass-produced, including goods and services and their consumers and producers. And it feeds and clothes the world, providing not only the objects of desire but the objects of need and the means by which we can obtain them.
The empire is remarkably stable, wars and recessions notwithstanding. Corporations are designed to insulate themselves from disaster, mainly through adaptive means. When they experience a downturn they lay off employees. They change their public relations easily and are always looking for new markets. Their officers are insulated from liability. They employ teams of lawyers to protect themselves. Stock markets tend to minimize difference between price and value. Corporations employ governments to help them penetrate domestic and foreign markets. They insure each other against disaster. Governments bail out corporations. Laws are passed that favor one corporation over another or one industry over another or one government over another. Not only do the components of empire share techniques and personnel but corporations, through lobbying groups, write legislation. With the continued globalization of corporations, the effort at stability is becoming increasingly international. Governments, corporations and universities cooperate on many levels to ensure their stability.
When our species finally settles on a maximum population, hopefully non-catastrophically, the size of markets will slowly stop changing. They will only open to small changes in demographics. There will be already a best-practice in place that can be improved only incrementally. And the improvements are quickly noticed and acquired by the competition.
The questions are not: Is this the best way? The right way? What other directions can we take? But Can we change our direction at all? The consumer economy and its constituent personalities are really the ordering of personal self-interest, bluntly, the orchestration of greed. Other than the way it is currently changing, because of the alignment of personality and corporation, fundamental change is improbable. Humanity is achieving the practical union of person and community on a global scale and reinventing the human personality as part of the process.
In the Enlightenment, Europeans claimed to have wrested Knowledge from the priesthood.
By means of the university and the printing press, Knowledge and its tools eventually became available to everyone. By the 20th Century, even poor children were being taught science, mathematics, history and literature at public expense.
In the 21st Century, we have reached the end of the Enlightenment. Knowledge is once again owned as a means to domination. Knowledge is once again falling into the hands of the privileged.
The consummate vehicle of privilege is the American Empire and its morphing clients.
Science is now Big Science. The petroleum and pharmaceutical industries own Chemistry. The military-industrial complex owns Physics. Medicine, Environment, and Astronomy depend on government grants. Ostensibly devoted to discovering objective reality, scientists who hold incorrect geological views have been fired when found to have done so.
The Arts must bow to the privileged or starve.
Those who toe the imperial line dominate political science journals. Political loyalty supersedes objective reality.
The University, formerly center of Knowledge acquisition and retrieval, is in service to the empire, a way for the Empire to select what ideas shall live and what shall die, an organ in the body of power. Universities are funded directly by the Empire, by those who have profited from it, or by those who expect to profit by it.
The pervasiveness of the Empire is global. There is not a person on the planet that is not touched by it. Nearly everyone gets their living from it.
Culture must have its myth. The Imperial members are constructing a new myth to support their involvement.
The person is assembled with respect to the myth of empire. The person joins a club that is already good, sane, and intelligent. We honor and appreciate each other. Apart from accidents, unavoidable when the immense political body moves, we do no harm. We are honest and sincere and open.
The person assembles with respect to identified enemies. They are evil, insane, and stupid. They try to harm us. They are not us. They do not deserve protection. They do not deserve to live. Our laws do not apply to them. We may do want we please to them. And what pleases us most is murder.
We must talk about things in particular ways. Our allies must be treated with respect, kindness, and money so that they can buy our weapons.
They enemy must be talked about in the harshest terms. They must be destroyed.
We condemn the crimes of others while perpetrating new crimes that are not called crimes. We condemn criminals while covering up our own.
The Matrix is the creature that Religion supports.
The Matrix is not concocted or driven or designed or controlled by a class of outsiders. We all contribute to it.
The Matrix is the network of all human beings that supply power to it. In the Imperial Matrix, even the opposition supplies power. Timothy McVeigh and Osama bin Laden all end up working for the man.
following structure is an easy handful of
methods by which we draw magic circles around
the stressful. The funeral, the casket,
the tombstone, the marble sepulcher
Our society uses the elements to construct the personalities it needs. In doing so, it perpetuates itself.
Humans are religious animals who narrate the myths, enact the rituals, handle the sacred objects and worship the animi and in doing so assemble as personalities. It is in the spectacles of religion, in the crowd observing the events, that the personality is most evidently constructed. The spectacles wind around each other, binding us together, having no center just as our own collection of personalities is a free mobile of insubstantials twisting in the wind, extending personality and culture in time. The fictions that we deal in and are composed of are body parts and skepticism is amputation.
The structure can come apart, its fictions evaporating.
A myth is the demonstrably false story fundamental to a personís construction and participation in the culture. We can't change our minds about myth.
All societies construct their members with myths. In the US we have the cowboy and the detective, the sex goddess and the post-modern woman, all virtuous in their pursuit. We have the American Dream of property ownership, of origins in the country side while building fantastic mansions in the mountains overlooking vast expanses of water. We must believe in the righteousness of our wars and deify our heroes. Our myths are improvised nightly on TV screens, updated, recast, and sensationalized to woo the jaded viewer once again into the mythical space that protects us from hyperstress.
A ritual is the repeatable behavior that reinforces belief in the myth, the sacredness of the sacred objects and the eternal and wise presence of the animi. Repetition constructs the individual personality with its regularity, its temporal unity and the unanimity of the crowd. We commute to work, put on generous holiday feasts, shop, eat out, get haircuts, marry, divorce and attend spectacles of sport and entertainment.
In the audience of spectacle, we can see personalities undergoing homogenization, turning their eyes to the same vision, uniting them as a group and strengthening their flimsy integrity.
A sacred object is a physical thing to be handled during ritual, such as the US Constitution, the Bible, Plymouth Rock, the Statue of Liberty, Buddhaís Tooth, a crucifix, a flag, or their symbolic substitutes. Even the name of the object is sacred.
The animus is that which secretly drives actions of the others. It animates the mascot to lead us into sport, the victim into war, the demon to scare the little kids, the saint to elevate, the hero to create virtue, the god to punish our sin and the voice of the unconscious.
Ideology is the set of rationalizations improvised by the culture that satisfies the human need for uttered logic. Ideology can be memorized and improvised upon. Ideology is like a glue connecting and pervading the myths, rituals, sacred objects and animi. Ideology and the other components must be reproduced to continue a culture through time.
That we live in the Matrix franchise, the set of movies, is both true and false.
We live in it in as much as we pay for and enjoy the experience of seeing and cheering on the characters on the screen.
But of course, itís silly to think that we are all unconsciously wired together to live in a dream world that provides electricity for the malevolent creatures of an alien species that considers us merely useful. Not really plausible.
But the success of the movie partly rests on its metaphoric strength. Every brain-live person can see that we live within tribal worlds, even singular universes of imagination, physical motion, and death. Some lunatics live in the wrong world. We live in the right one. We live in a world of our own making.
The greatest promise of the enlightened individual, to be the emperor of oneself, achieves its zenith in narcissitis familarius, that vast spectacle of the mutual admiration society within which we smugly thrive. The individual glory merges with the even greater glory of our people. Damn the victims. Full-speed ahead.
The good news is that you get to join the human race.
The bad news is that we and all our victims are doomed to extinction.
A house of cards, which is made of actual objects, is stronger than the Imperial Religious Matrix, which is merely a collection of ideas, nearly independent of substance, that gives the person a feeling of personal being, political power and cosmic transcendence. The collection of ideas wires the person into the cultural relationships. But an idea, particularly a cultural idea, can evaporate and a faith can be abandoned. It can be proclaimed, disclaimed, rewarded, opposed, defended, proved and disproved, and celebrated.
The Religious Matrix is the strongest entity of all because each constituent person is connected by discussion to many neighbors who correct and extend each others opinions. The Imperial Matrix is held together by persons who exist by locking arms and ideas in a network. The persons are constructed in their social relationships. A person alone is nothing at all. Must be an outcast. Something wrong here.
A person within the Imperial Matrix would cease to exist if he changed his mind, an unbearable existential crisis. A house of cards is held together by tiny friction forces that can be overcome by a draft from an open window. A person is not so substantial.
The world ends when the connections are broken. The person may not change his mind. Not only would you be required to change your mind but also the minds of all your neighbors with whom we have constructed ourselves. We wonít permit that because their world would end. Chaos would win. Any order is better than no order at all.
In addition to vulgar selfishness, the Matrix provides transcendence. Not everyone requires transcendence but neighbors in the Matrix hunger for contract. Even conspiratorial crime requires some transcendence, some extension, trust, promise, reliability. In addition to construction of the nuclear self, the Matrix offers transcendence to the assembling person. While he might live a low and grubby life, scraping for food or delivering luxury items to the wealthy, retrieving useful facts or creating lies, saving people or killing for hire, he can look up from the slaughter and imagine, via the myth, that he is a character of the larger story, part of something powerful. He imagines himself a cell in the body of a giant. If he needs an excuse at all, the selfish person reinforces his individual existence by the realization that he is part of the whole and his social hunger is satisfied, and he can go back to work. He can face the alarm clock.
The sacred objects of the Religions, its tanks and planes, its corporations and high-rise buildings, its summit conferences and back room conspiracies, heroes and sacrificial victims, its paintings and TV shows can evaporate. In fact, some commodities are built to be destroyed and are annoying when they persist. Others are hoarded in eternal fantasies, bank vaults, museums, two-car garages and other more or less secure places.
If the individual can be shown a net loss, confidence is undermined but neighbors prevent decoupling.
No one exists outside of the Imperial Matrix. Even the opposition participates, assembling as opponent, registering his weak complaint while going about his tiny business, playing his little part in the grand scheme. Some opponents will go so far as to boycott a spectacle or two as long as the benefits of braggadocio exceed the inconvenience. Itís about relationship and reputation, after all.
Every system of power has its opposition. The Matrix requires hatred. Some persons naturally oppose authority at all costs. If the opposition does not exist, the actors within the Matrix will create an enemy as a fictive entity and then populate it with actual persons. The Matrix will demand unacceptable sacrifice of some persons, who will register their rebellion. Vulnerable persons will merely find their names on a list and despite all denials be assigned the role of opponent.
A point of validation of a system is its utility, its ability to serve as a model or a model-making language with which we talk consistently about the world we fictively share.
The Matrix provides the bonds that hold people together. It identifies an enemy and provides an orthodoxy. It satisfies the universal human instinct for social communication.
All of the religions redundantly co-construct the person embedded within the Matrix. There is no single-cause or fundamental. If a Religion is removed, the personís relationships survive because the remaining religious connections support the person in the network and in fact provide a healing service so that the person can recover the damaged religion.
Losing all religious connections to other members decouples the person from the Matrix. The person undergoes a profound identity crisis and ceases to exist for the Matrix.
Creating dissonant, heterodoxic signals interferes with the harmony of the Matrix. Creating your own Religion or Anti-Religion withdraws support from the Matrix, depriving it of energy. Satirizing Religions poisons the Matrix.
The Matrix operates on resonance rather than cause and effect.
All the religions contain a universal falsehood: The person does not gain an advantage in the Religion because the Individual is constructed in the relationship. The Individual does not exist prior to participation in the Religion.
A person can be several Individuals, each constructed by a separate Religion. For example, an Individual might assemble in the social liberal context as tolerant but when accosted on the street might close up into a social conservative.
A person can be connected to another person who does not know the first. Celebrities, historical figures, deities, and political figures can be part of your Matrix.
Your neighborhood in the Matrix is connected via your neighbors to other neighborhoods such that we are all connected by the fabrications, even those people we consider our worst enemies. The Matrix is becoming Imperial.
In pre-modern days, Individuals were not constructed. Members of hierarchies assembled in response to the intense power-Matrix of the times.
Myth: That the Individual is the center of the personal universe. The Knower exists before its relationship with the Known. This is false because the individual is constructed by its relationships within the crowd and its relationship between Knower and Known.
Ritual: Self-expression. Shopping. Exercise. Therapy. Voting. Sticking up for oneself.
Sacred Object: The body. Personal possession. Car. Degree. Validation. Job. Product for
Animus: The Self. The Victim Who Triumphs in the Face of Adversity. Patriarchy. Republicans.
Myth: Ownership Supports Pride. The American Dream. Ownership Justifies Defense of Property. False because property ownership is temporary. You own it as long as you can hold onto it and until the property disintegrates. Ownership of property constructs the personality.
Ritual: Obtaining the Loan. Periodic payment on the loan. Collection. Payoff.
Sacred Object: House, Car, Deed, Receipts. Wealth. Pride of Ownership. Means of Production.
Animus: Donald Trump, J. P. Morgan, Mammon. Karl Marx.
Myth: Mastering an Operational Procedure leads to Prestige. False because the person managing a system is constructed in the relationship, not before.
Ritual: Instruction. Practice. Award.
Sacred Objects: Tools. Fabricated objects. Resultant ideas. Wealth. Programs and Projects.
Animus: Henry Ford. Saboteurs.
Myth: Creation of Artifacts for the appreciation of their Form leads to Prestige.
Sacred Objects. Paintings. Sculptures. Music. Poetry. Performance Art. Spectacle.
Animus: Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollack, Rembrandt. Art dealer. Iconoclasts.
Myth: That submitting to the Divine leads to Righteousness and Prestige.
Ritual: Sermon. Prayer. Singing. Kneeling and bowing. Hallelujahing. Sacrifice.
Sacred Object: Scriptures. Host. Candles. Icons. Buildings. Ideas. Idols. Crucifixes.
Animus: God. Satan. Priest. Priesthood. Demons. Heretics.
Myth: Traveling broadens the mind and increases profit.
Rituals: Grand Tour. Migration. Tourism. Exogamy.
Sacred Objects: Souvenirs. Stories. Pictures. Sun tans.
Myth: That our existence props up the envelope of Progress. That our Ancestry indicates the direction of Progress. Through our Ancestry, we are part of Progress. False because history is a construct that must be rewritten for each generation, as each looks at the world through a distinct world view: its unique set of Matrixes.
Sacred Objects: Ancestry. Documents. Museums. Cultural Artifacts.
Animus: Historical or ancestral figures. Napoleon. Great Grandfather. Joe Stalin. Adolf Hitler. Founding Fathers.
Myth: Power organizes Culture. Strength = Power. Beauty = Power. Intelligence = Power. False because power corrupts and power creates the opposition that will destroy it. Power is generally exerted over the vulnerable, not the strong.
Ritual: Physical workout. Makeover. Training. Practice. School.
Sacred Objects: The body. The Mind. Diplomas. Trophies. Marriage. Cars. Rank. Purple Heart.
Animus: Sports heroes. Nobel laureates. Stupid weaklings.
Myth: That we are in this together. That they are not us. False because we are not together but some of us try to be. By constructing a Manichean model, we create opposition rather than defeat it.
Ritual: Public Address. Identification of the Enemy. Hating the enemy. Destroying the Enemy. Marriage. Bar Mitzvah. Funerals. Admission into Hierarchy.
Sacred Objects: Professional Organizations. Sport Teams. Political Parties. Victim. Teaching Institutions. Rank. Membership. Contact with other individuals. Contact with other groups. Rank.
Animus: Us. Them.
Myth: That marriage brings happiness. Women who have children will be happier than those who donít. One should not be alone. There is no single model of marriage. All models of marriage have profound issues. Marriage is a primitive not a derived concept.
Rituals: Marriage. Friendship. Sex. Divorce. Anniversary.
Sacred Objects: Rings. Promises. Domicile.
Animus: Ideal Husband. Mistress of Divorce. Ideal Wife. Children. Dogs and Cats.
Myth: That the individual participates in a glorious event when he rushes to the defense of the community. War is only glorious to those who do not actually experience it.
Ritual: Enlistment. Boot camp. Shipping out. Funeral. Award of Medals. Narration of the myth. Narration of war stories. Memorial day. Laying the Wreath before the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Sacred Object: Medals. Photos.
Animus: Soldiers and sailors. General Officer. The Dead. Deserters. Cowards. Traitors.
Myth: That humanity declared itself independent of authority as a basis of Knowledge and substituted the accumulation of experience. False because authority aperiodically reasserts itself. Knowledge is power and power corrupts. See Progress.
Ritual: Research. Documentation.
Sacred Object: Books. Lectures. Experiments. Surveys. Laboratory.
Animus: Doctor. Student.
Myth: That human society is progressively getting better. Societies prey on each other. Invaders think that things are getting better. The invaded do not. Human population has grown progressively but humans are not happier.
Ritual: State of the Union address.
Sacred Object: Charts. Economic growth.
Animus: Thomas Edison, J. P. Morgan, all the Nobel Laureates.
Myth: That Science and Technology is progressively making things better. False because even bad people have access to technology. We might use technology to eliminate ourselves. Not everything is reducible to a science. Not all questions can be answered.
Ritual: Nobel awards. New product introduction. Product fairs. College.
Sacred Object: Cars. Computers. Degrees. Lab apparatus. White lab coats. Particle accelerators.
Animus: Scientist. Engineer. Consumer. Professors. Students. Luddites. The de-personified objects of science can be seen as castrated animi or conveniently re-personified.
Myth: That grand, unified, satirical revelations countering human hope can serve humanity.
Sacred Object: The Work. Criticism.
Animus: Author. Reader. Critics.
Myth: The sports fan is a member of the tribe of the sports team. False because the fan is constructed in observing the spectacle of sport and because professional sport is really a corporate brand and the fan is merely an anonymous consumer.
Ritual: Spectacle of the Arena. National Anthem.
Sacred Object: Trophy. Sports
Animus: Sports hero. Commentator. Fan. Our Team. Other Teams.
Myth: That I am a proud citizen of a great and good Nation. False because Nations cannot be good. Nations are political entities, not ethical entities. Nations accrue via conquest. Nations contain their own enemies and cases commit great evils in eradicating their enemies. The citizen is constructed by his loyalty.
Ritual: National Anthem. War.
Sacred Object: Flag. Cemetery.
Animus: Soldier. Statesman.
Myth: That I am a supremely important person and that you should worship me.
Ritual: Eating. Sleeping. Drinking. Working. Talking. Choosing. Shopping. Buying.
Sacred Object: Material possessions. House and a garage for your new car.
Myth: That by joining an established religion, you become a member of a tribe that loves you.
Ritual: Love Bombing. Picnic. Fund-raising. Sermon.
Sacred Object: Text. Symbol.
Animus: Founder. Saint. Preacher. Deacon. Laity. Demons. Virtues. Vices.
Myth: That being against a Religion is the true way to be.
Ritual: Attack anything that looks like a religion.
Myth: That Family values are fundamental to the development of good personality is false because Family is a power system, which is always corrupt.
Ritual: Dinner. Christmas. Reunions.
Sacred Object: Christmas Tree.
Animus: Father. Mother. Kids. Grandma. Grandpa.
Myth: That one transcends immediate culture by creating Works of Art. Works of Art, especially Great Works of Art, are temporary appellations that disappear. Even the transcendent works, such as Venus de Milo, an imitation of a lost, earlier work, are only called great. We call things Ďgreatí in order to partake in greatness, to aggrandize ourselves as appreciators of art. A work of art was originally created as a commodity for a price. It is an artifact. If the price falls below the cost of storage, it will be discarded. Happens all the time. Value is relative. What we see in museums is what has been unearthed. When we disappear, we disappear.
Ritual: Painting. Sculpture. Writing. Filmmaking. Music. Museum-going. Gallery-haunting.
Sacred Object: Ouvre. Museum.
Animus: The Creator. Critic. Iconoclast.
Myth: Founded by noble, selfless, pure, truthful, saint-like, self-sacrificing Founding Fathers who, through terrible Adversity, Triumphed us into the Modern Worldís first Democracy of Truth, Freedom and the American Way of Life as Transcendent Principles that will Last for All Time Forever and by the way wrote the constitution, an incredibly inconvenient document but who cares because it doesnít really matter any more and never did. False because the US was founded by calculating financial interests that acquired territory by warring against the decrepit or preoccupied empires, by stealing from the indigenous owners of the land, by importing kidnapped slaves and coolee labor, and raping the landscape of its natural beauty. The super-patriot is the most vacuous of all the fabrications. We pay some of the windbags to be armed to the teeth.
Ritual: Memorial Day. 4th of July. Every major league sports spectacle. Congress. Elections. April 15th. Every War.
Animus: St George. St
In pre-modern times, the person was a brick in the fortress of the monarchy.
In Elizabethan theatre, the plays were about the upper class, usually the royals. The issue that drove the plays was that king insisted on being head of the nation, the father demanded respect as the head of the household, and that defying hierarchal authority caused a profound and unacceptable disorder.
In the intensely patriarchal pyramid, fathers owned their wives and children. The king owned the country and its people. The Pope owned the bishops, who owned the priests, who owned the peasants.
Chaos was the violation of that order. You must plug into the Matrix as a member of the hierarchy, controlling your underlings and being controlled by your overlords.
Loyalty was rewarded and defiance was punished severely. Punishment illustrated the power of the king. Social order depended on sufficient numbers recognizing that they were cells in the body of a higher power.
The concept of the individual person as an autonomous knowing being surfaced in literature about the time of William Shakespeare.
The word Ďindividualí as it pertains to a person is new. Before 1647 the word described multi-faceted things like the Holy Trinity and the married couple.
Shakespeare and others tentatively introduced the character of the individual as the arbiter of knowledge-through-experience caught in the machinery of the hierarchal Matrix.
If the Individual, as a mode of being, originated at a time in history, then the Individual has an end at some time as well.
Individualism certainly changes through time. The rugged individual of the early American republic who stood and fell in his independence, watering the tree of liberty with his own blood, is not the same creature as the modern American who interprets freedom as the right to enjoyment, a kind of hedonism that admits of no sacrifice but assembles as a knowing Being separate from the Known object and who can pick and choose at pleasure among the opportunities on the super-market shelves of life.
Religious freedom to the Calvinists meant freedom from the corruption of the Roman Popes and the freedom to be far more strictly orthodox in theocratic rule. Ironically, the Calvinists were one of several wedges that split the medieval hierarchy and ended their own hegemony.
In the human discourse, signifiers are stable but over time (and within time!) the signifier slips around. No amount of arranging of words within an explanation can halt the play of meaning. Thus we are saved and thus we are damned.
In post-modern times, imperial social order depends on sufficient numbers thinking that they are autonomous, independent, self-regulating, responsible individuals at the very center of a personal universe that becomes glorious and rewarding.
The concept of the individual in all its grandeur is essential to consumerism.
We continue to purchase and cherish the sacred objects that express and glorify our existence. Consumer confidence is the currency of post-modern economics.
The body is the most sacred object of all. It is beautified according to style, kept in good repair by health care professionals, personal trainers, physical and mental therapists, gurus, financial consultants, dieticians, colleagues in work and play, personal trainers, television, radio, advertising, movies, books, estheticians, marketers of clothing and makeup and charm, talk shows, magazine racks, the advice of friends, genealogists and other technologists of immortality, in short the entire onslaught of post-modern media surrounding the glorified individual with the desired objects of purchase, the charms of self-aggrandizement and the rhetoric of their justification too. The body is foreground to the chorus of advice.
The mind is trained to focus, intelligence whetted, facts neatly packed into the cerebrum for quick retrieval, although dismissal of the foreign and sticky, the radical and the strange, the odd and the unfamiliar is far more convenient to shopper. Itís about choice, after all.
The body is the vehicle for career, that life-long trajectory of self-aggrandizement, the accumulation of wealth and reputation.
Consumer confidence is essential to economic growth. Lack of spending poisons the financial health.
And deep within the body lives the Self, that magician of existence, the wizard of intelligence, the judge and arbiter of all dispute, the measure of all things. The Self animates the body.
And the eternal enemy of the Self is the Lecturer, the Patriarch, the Autocrat, the Authoritarian, Satan the denier of the Self, the Obstacle between the hungry Self and its narcissistic pleasure, the angry God and his prophet who require self-sacrifice, who deny the Self its autonomy.
And all of the above rolls up into the Individual as a Cell in the Body of Empire, unconscious of itself and its role, unconscious of the crimes that its dollar finances, chasing the dollar with which it purchases its distractions, unconscious of its culture beyond the particular distractions more or less within reach, unconscious of history or science or language or technology beyond which is necessary to earn and purchase. There is nothing beyond the entertainment of the child within.
And personal sacrifice can only be the demand of an evil agent of patriarchal authority or the sickness of a damaged, masochistic self or the mistake of a loser stupid enough to fall for anything else but the pleasures identified by the great, purchasing mob.
Thus our particular individual, independent personality constructs and thus we wire ourselves into the Matrix. The Individual is herded into the imperial homogenizer with everything else.
You will not survive the revolution. Revolutionaries after the revolution are as useful as warriors after the war. They are dangers to fixed societies and must be set aside, eliminated in some way. In a thousand years, no one will know your name.
Empire is the largest and most stable of mobs.
Of all the things in the world, what is more important, more vital, more dangerous, more exciting, more transcendent than the giant billion-legged Imperial Matrix howling for the adored objects of its desire, the hated objects of its repulsion?
While some of its units are very intelligent, a mob is utterly stupid. The bigger the mob the stupider it is. The Imperial Matrix is the stupidest thing possible. It has the intelligence of an amoeba. It sort of knows whatís good to eat, whatís going to eat it, and whatís already been eaten but makes mistakes. It sometimes tries to swallow a province that will not go down.
The mob will allow a very few substitutions of the verb Ďto eatí, such as Ďto killí, and among gentler folk, Ďto shun.í These are the relationships between the mob and unfortunate object that has come into its view.
The mob has the intelligence of an ameba. It is a willful act of stupidity to join.
However, the mob, even the largest mobs, is composed of individuals capable of a much wider set of concepts than the brutal three. Individuals are much smarter than the groups to which they belong.
The individual chooses to ally himself to a group. He really doesnít need anything more convincing than to see the crowd on the move with its pitchforks and ropes but the individual, before his joyous surrender, remembers an uncomfortable thing or two learned as a child and reaches a decision point.
The individual learned to recognize and deal with cultural artifacts of its story, rites, money, and personalities.
We were taught to hunt but we were also taught not to kill the good guys. Only hunt the bad guys. Ethical principles are among the many artifacts the individual might process at decision points.
We live not so much in nature but in a world of artifacts: ideas, movies, sound bites, commercials, traffic reports, bumper stickers, and jokes.
In order to act, the individual attempts to process a short weighted list of artifacts whose purpose is to justify the action. We have been taught to derive our actions from ethical considerations. However, the best that most can do most of the time is to use ethics to justify action after the decision to act, after the act even. Action is not derived from ethics but is propped up by ethics.
We share the artifacts. Or rather, a culture is a group of people who share similar artifacts. One culture is distinct from another because the cultures do not share the same set of artifacts.
The collection of artifacts within a culture supports its myth as a distinct, righteous, good, chosen, original, autochthonous race of beings who are scrupulously kind to each other and passionately cruel to the hated enemy. Humans solve the problem of existence by acting together.
Even the individual in the criminal sub-culture or the counter-culture or the many gray cultures belongs to a culture. Having wised up to something, he sardonically dismisses the usual general myth for a more specialized story that pertains to a smaller subculture, that sets them apart from the main stream, that produces, in some sense, an elite that is immune to the generalities and banalities of the common herd.
A creature so efficiently exploitive of the material, so grand in its seizure of the material by the immaterial, constructs its shell out of the immaterial laying around, the disintegrating residue of what actually happened.
But it is not just your view hardly at all. It is more about us and everything that was already in motion eons before the first human walked, let alone constructed abstractions.
A culture is a political structure stable long enough to be named. Invented and maintained by one society at the expense of another, empire pervades and invades, transcending time and space, enduring and occupying. It has already come to get you. You have already been delivered to its door. You have already joined your children.
The pervasiveness of imperial power distorts the creation and reception of every event that occur within its field.
Furthermore, the artist is compelled to navigate between outrage and boredom, popularity and ignominy, as well as all the usual dimensions of truth and beauty.
But the field is just the winding around of its members, its sinew, its ideas, each around the other. It is made of confidence.
The phenomenon of the American Empire of the 21st century, extends everywhere in the minds of people. It is pervasive globally.
The artist is nothing if not a fool for philosophy, a mockery of virtue, or clown for children.
Because it is the artist, after all, who prevents us from madness, who provides the bread, the icing, the wine, the song and the dance and the explosives.
It is the first job of work of the artist to labor faithfully under the encouraging lash of the critic.
A people is more of a concept than a particular man and an empire more than a nation.
Because an empire is an idea, it has no borders. It is immaterial and can have no borders. We can move within it, pass through it, climb its peak, ride its ridge, and traverse the slope. Beyond the edge there is nothing. Not merely emptiness but nothing at all.
By art, include every object shaped by people, including their ideas, their homes, their families.
The imperial distortion works with the psychology of perception whereby conclusions made by the individual are constructed out of immediate sense data, memory, and intention more or less modulated by logical processing.
The distortion is post-modern in that the talk has its affect on the perceived world, the talk changes the perceived world, constructs the perceived world, destroys and replaces older ideas.
It is not really a distortion, since the word implies an undistorted reality. In post-modern times, there is no non-contingent basis for that kind of judgment.
Humanity is open. The Matrix does change, over time. But the Ďopennessí does not necessarily mean Ďprogressí, because we are open to the worst excess of fascism, failure of the food chain, global warming and massive die-offs. Buyer beware.
The Matrix changes at least in part because of efforts to explain it, to close it, to figure it out. Explaining it, changes it. Prediction tends to makes people unpredictable. Change is possible.
Every Religion provides the person with a mode of Being and a hated opposition.
All religions contain a universal falsehood in that the religious person is offered but does not does not gain an advantage in the Religion because the Individual is constructed in the relationship.
The person offered the deal is not equal to the person who joins.
You have to change who you are to join. The Individual does not exist prior to participation in the Religion. This is the universal crow-bar of disturbance.
Losing all religious connections to other members decouples the person from the Matrix. The person undergoes a profound identity crisis and ceases to exist for the Matrix. In the joyous interpretation, this is called ego-loss. More often, itís a nightmarish experience.
People do decouple from their Religions. A natural rebelliousness coincident with a serious disappointment in the religious experience can seriously weaken the connection and a person becomes free enough to change religions.
A Religion must have its enemy, which is someone who is either vulnerable or who is a rival.
Creating dissonant, heterodoxic signals interferes with the harmony of the Matrix. Creating your own Religion or Anti-Religion withdraws support from the Matrix, depriving it of energy. Satirizing Religions poisons the Matrix.
The debate is generally entertaining to all parties but does not move people. A person losing a debate will not abandon his Religion but will in some way heal. He might refuse to speak to you or merely repeat his discredited statements or with the smarter ones, put a band-aid or two over the wound and consider the problem solved. Debate strengthens a personís Religious connections in the face of opposition. Debate strengthens debating skills, which are only useful in subsequent debates.
The young adult often yearns to change a Religion when tiring from chanting the exhausted invocations to sacrifice. The family often displays rampant contradictions. The youth sits in the schoolroom that promises a future adventure and wealth and prestige while the expelled frolic in those qualities right now. Some people oscillate between belonging and freedom. Every Religion has its fringe in weak orbit.
Loners are isolated from Religions. Extreme loners are invisible. Loners that you can see are trying to build a personality cult around themselves.
Preaching to your own choir strengthens your own Religion.
Public demonstrations reinforce membership by displaying group-faith in the face of opposition.
Accelerate the statements of the religion, getting them up to full-speed before they hit the inevitable wall.
Strengthen yourself by exercise of your skills. Become the skilled iconoclast.
I will no longer watch the films of Michael Haneke. He has methodically destroyed my myths, leaving me cleansed of everything that has been important to me and left an open wound where once my being thought it was.
No one who is not dying should watch these films and the doomed should not watch them either. They should be lied to like everyone else.
Neither should you read the books of Cormick McCarthy. They are depressing. They seem to present human life as it is, rather than the way I think it should be. And, worse, he is completely effective in his presentation. They distract me from purchasing the objects of desire upon which I base what little is left of my self-respect.
Do watch The Sound of Music and Singing in the Rain over and over again. Sing along. They are wonderful testaments to the human hope of progress.
To be seen, an object must be in some relationship with something else, the picture and the wall, the image and the reality, the observer and the observed, the truth and its coupling lie.
There must be transmission of sensory information from the observed to the observed.
Irony juxtaposes the truth and its mask. Satire is ironyís wilder child.
As a target for satire, the American Empire is huge. It's big and strong and can take a joke.
Satire is easiest to use on Myth. The story is already there to be acted out. The artist need only to refer to the story, possibly exagerating some mutually recognizable feature, and thus by imitation showing the fact and its mask.
A society is a quasi-stable political structure held together by ritual decisions.
The pervasiveness of empire touches everything. It provides all the materials, relationships, and audiences as well as the criticism to repeat about all these things.
In terms of the art market, the large galleries and museums and auctions, they are imperial in scale. A full-sized picture or a good imitation of a Jackson Pollack would do just as well hanging on the wall but it would not bring the price or the pride of ownership.
Empires pervades by art. It is the sum of all its local context bearing down upon the individual.
The archaeology of empire is the close reading of its text-like artifacts, such as books, movies, signs and rituals.
An empire is a pervasive, self-perpetuating, more or less stable political structure invented and maintained by societies of human beings at the expense of others. Empires can live for centuries. An empire is stable inasmuch as it bestows transcendence on its members.
Each member of the Empire selects some objects and rejects others, evolving the randomly scattered creation and reception of artistic objects. Thus Empire is constructed by its subjects.
At all levels, from beggar to emperor, Empire is utterly dependent on its members. Like all illusions, an Empire begins to disappear when its observer loses faith in the underlying myth. When any one person turns away from the illusion, abandons cheerleading, refuses to deal in its dead objects and exhausted symbols, others, by imitation also begin to lose faith. All the ancient empires have died. No attempt to rejuvenate imperial loyalty or faith in their gods can be made. There is no rejuvenating Jupiter.
The amazing thing: how can an empire be built with so many iconoclasts? How can a post-modern empire be built? What are the fundamental myths of the Empire?
The artist working within an empire can transmit messages to anyone in the empire.
However, the artist is in competition with everyone else.
Esthetics is one of the relationships between an observer and the observed. The aesthetic relationship is between you and the object you are viewing.
To be seen, there must be some contrast between the object and its background.
There must be sense data passing sent from the viewed to the viewer. Transmission.
It is not at all unusual that other components, especially the authorities of market place, religion, and government (as well as everyone that has ever told you anything), to enter the relationship between observer and observed. Our language is loaded with advice on how to see and what to say about it.
In fact, what we see (or judge that we are seeing) is largely dominated not by our sensory perceptions but by memory and intention. We recognize old things rather than form new cognitions. We do not see things as the really are but instead see things in the same old way.
On the way to work, when Iím walking through a residential neighborhood I think about how many paths are possible between where I start and were I end. Have I taken all of them yet? Is this one interesting?
I see a dog running behind a picket fence, I catch fragments of the image of the animal and the sound of its padding feet and its growl. I quickly remember that such fractions add up to a dog and dismiss the perception with the word Ďdogí. Itís on the other side of the fence and I am safe. I have a destination, plans that do not involve the animal.
Then, at the end of its run, furious at my ignorance, it throws itself at the fence and I am startled into thinking it a threat. There is something indigestible about the moment. This becomes a particular dog, one that has made an impression on me, one that refuses to be immediately dismissed.
But again the curtain comes down and the word pops up. Time and repetition dull the moment. The reverberation of the memory decays. I might walk on the other side of the street tomorrow just so I can dismiss the dog as merely a dog and nothing else. I go about my business.
Something that is genuinely new might not be seen at all. Something that has been seen many times fades and finally disappears.
I donít suppose I could get much done if I could really see the world as it is.
There would be too many things to deal with too often. In order to function, my intentions filter out what seems to be irrelevant, which is almost everything I can see.
I donít look up much. Sometimes
the sky is blue with complex clouds and a coy sun. Other
I tend to look out from my creature horizontally. I tend to look the near features rather than the horizon. Whatever is on the horizon is distant. Often I am in some kind of artificial canyon and the horizon is the jagged top edge of a line of buildings.
In the city, I donít look down much. The sidewalk cracks in the usual way and wilderness takes root and tries to widen the breach for its descendent. There are curbs and things to step in and there are the cars that, in their brutal ignorance, kill one or two pedestrians each month in town. And there are the other walkers refusing to make eye contact, denying any chance of communication beyond the ubiquitous order to keep your distance. It is the city, after all. It has its message. Many people wear their music and tune it all out.
Iím really looking for my utterly reliable navigation landmarks. Maybe there is a little weather to complain about. Thus I confront the cosmos and its human portion, in all its grandeur and tragedy, with boredom and ignorance.
When backpacking, at first I stumble around, expecting the reliability of the city pavement. Then I quickly learn to check the ground frequently. When off the trail, I carefully place each step. Iím always checking the sky for its warnings. Who knows what animal waits for its dinner. Mountain lions are said to be invisible and silent. You donít know them until they are gnawing through your cervical vertebrae.
We can expect some artists to exceed our expectations, to escape the class into which we put them, to violate our sensitivities, to break the confines of its label.
For the artist and writer, musician, and sculptor, performer and exhibitor, the paradox is gaining recognition as old and yet to surprise with new.
The commercial artist mostly wants to be recognized by the viewer, to create work that will reassure the viewer that the purchase will give him pleasure and reinforce his membership in a community.
The revolutionary artist mostly wants to shock the audience, threatening, breaking through the resistance of the viewer, shattering the jade shell of criticism with which the viewer shields himself from the disturbing experience.
The shield is largely social. Our family, schools, friends, co-workers, TV, radio, movies, newspapers and novels give us the tools of dismissal. Thus we keep each other on the straight and narrow. The illusion of diversity reassures some of us.
In the presence of empire, all social units are tied to one another and transmit the same message: produce and consume. We recognize the beast behind the fence and deal with it the same way we have always dealt with it. I was not interested in the dog anyway; I was just trying to get to work.
In postmodern times, we know that the viewer of the art is intimately involved in the art, that we are not separate from the art, that we construct our visions and are constructed by them.
We apply value and concept to the work. We use art decorate our conversation, to prop us up as intelligent and perceptive beings. We construct our relationship with art. The tools of construction are given to us.
Art more than just hangs on the wall and we more than just observe it. In as much as it effects us, it changes us. We become different people with a refreshed vocabulary of concepts with which we look at the world. Our world-view changes.
In one museum installation about environmental change, the docents gave each of us a thin blanket before opening the door into a large, very cold room. In the center, a disassembled BMW was covered with ice. In the bitter cold, the viewers walked around the car and peered inside, attempting to make something of it. No one would stay inside for long. Emerging with relief, few had anything to say. Was the artist watching us? Perhaps it was about irreversible environmental damage. After all, you can not just watch the end of the world because you will be ending too; you are likely to be too desperate to look at anything but the means of survival. The apocalypse cannot be televised. When Death places its cold hand upon your naked shoulder, where is your theory of art?
The observer evolves, becoming not just a more learned person with a larger storehouse of facts but becomes a profoundly different person, former and latter as unlike as child and adult.
Of course, the art might be trivial and not affect us or we may trivialize the art and refuse to let it affect us. We may reject it as revolting, outrageous, blasphemous, which might be exactly the relationship that the artist designed.
The Blockbuster American Movie and the Fantasy of Power
GDP as % of
Defense Budget as % of
Population as % of
War dead as % of
It is unnecessary to consider myself as a single unit.
I am a collection of objects and actions including a associative tree of memories, a short prioritized list of intentions, immediate perceptions, and logic and language capabilities.
The intentions are mostly animalistic: the easily stereotyped, vulgar concerns of the body, the desires of eating and sleeping, curious urges to adventure, beauty among women and honor among men.
Or can I? They have other people in them. My dreams do. Powerful people, sometimes, and others that are fearful and run away or try to. Who am I and who are they?
But those adjectives are for the unimaginative, for those without vision, for those who donít crave epiphany, who cannot reach for glory.
Artist in Community
If we dare accept, for the experience, that the human world is composed of billions of isolated and irreconcilable views, that humans gang up together and inflict great cruelties on one another, on the vulnerable, and that they must hide their deeds from some while bragging to others, that some humans must talk to each other, must explain things, must seek consensus, how can be begin to speak? Some are tempted to scream an unintelligible scream, a scream that cannot and will not be understood.
There is no refuge. There is only the others drowning in the all-receiving ocean of culture, subject only to time.
Endlessly detailed and deeply tragic, cosmically small yet immense to its inhabitants stuck in its time and space,
I construct my story out of the unending discourse. What should I like? Who should I hate? Who should I vote for? As a member of an articulate social species, I must talk about these things.
When someone becomes conscious of the artifact because of its form rather than merely itís utility, the material is shaped by the immaterial.
Each personís relatively unique set of experiences produces a phenotype.
It does not necessarily produce an Individual.
Criticism is adding your voice to the cacophony of advice.
The artist cannot cease to try to know and be known.
What is Art?
The world of objects, things as they actually are, independent of human opinion, each particular stone, every star and the cold vacuum that contains it all, including humans, ephemeral physical and chemical objects in space and time that briefly escape the physical machine. We might systematize our reaching for the world of objects, the principles and findings of physics.
Or independent of science, logic and mathematics, thought by some to underlie all knowledge, even of things that cannot actually exist. In fact the desire, especially the social desire feedback where the individual succeeds in attaching itself to the communal body by ritual imitation. Science is a corruption of things as they actually are.
The artistic object can include ideas, immaterial abstractions of the real world or independent of the real.
Art is the grasping and shaping of the material by the immaterial.
Because our contacts are particular, our ideas tend to be provincial, even singular while claiming the universal, fundamental, and eternal.
Our intellects enable us to position ourselves with respect to a few tethers to society, to particular people, groups of people, and places.
Except cases of aesthetic dictatorship, the artist absorbs about as much as transmitted.
But no one can embrace it all. The weight of the possibility is crushing. How could an artist bear the weight?
The particular artistic event, the one that actually happens, overlaps our vague expectations, sometimes surprises, becoming notable, memorable, possibly reinforcing the rituals lurking in the context, sometimes subverting them.
Much talk is in reference to great, vital, even cosmic issues. They can have a high value in some markets. Some are desperate to win the bid and promote their views. Some are willing to die trying. The importance of the conflicting views abrades and inspires the artist. The importance of the issue adds the dimension of value to the physical measurements of the object.
Apart from the legal definition, it is not so much the individual who chooses but a nervous summation of a collection of interior objects and operations such as immediate intention, current perception, logic, surprises in the perceptual field, id, ego, superego, an inner child, moral codes, an inner dragon, preoccupation with other times and places, and fears and fetishes and a lot more.
The Individual is as much a fiction as a corporation. The Individual as a concept has achieved mythical stature. It is demonstrably false and fundamental to our culture.
The Dividual, fragmented, stuck in time and place, desperately wishes to travel to other places and times, craving excitement, security, the appearance of wealth, knowledge, beauty, justice, nature, in short, all that the Dividual lacks in the here and now.
Much of what the Dividual wants is in the form of art, objects manufactured by humans that are eventually appreciated for their form as well as utility. Art symbolizes transcendence, ostensibly freeing the individual from the banality of its immediate environment.
We all make choices in our daily lives. We construct our lives by our choices. It is possible to construct a life artistically, that is, a life that is an artistic object to be examined for its form as well as its utility. We all live in the world but you can choose to live in the world as an example, a conscious, deliberate individual.
In one of the larger envelopes of culture, myth is the story to be told when enacting ritual and handling the sacred objects.
The objects of humanity include the things of the natural world as well as things fabricated from the natural world but also immaterial things such as thought and concept, myth, and story.
The immaterial component of culture is utterly essential for its viability at its present large size. Myth and story and ritual prop up culture, a desert of melting clocks on crutches.
The immaterial is necessary to transcendence and epiphany.
Look at the magazine rack for instructions as to choice of ritual.
Men are into cars and drivers, guns and ammo. The loftier type will choose history to keep his nose in the air but thereís gun behind that too.
Except those in the arts or in the workplace or in the family or politics or sports or teaching or law or national defense, women are into attracting men.
And there are many pieces of the mob to join!
You can join the mob by creating an artifact. Joining the mob is an artifact. Anything that is created is an artifact and anything that can be noticed, apart from its utility, is a work of art.
If societies can be summed up into a word: Power.
From the outside, power structures can be analyzed at a high level into its components.
Each of the components offers transcendence to the participants. They can leave their tiny life and travel within the spectacular mental space that we create by participating in the structure. They can imagine themselves in compliance with the myth, a ranked member of the social body, learning and mastering the rituals, and owning the sacred objects. We wind our beliefs around the beliefs of others, around our supposed mutual belief in our particular values.
Power structural analysis provides a basis for ethical and political action.
Of course, culture is not a formal system. It is not composed of atoms and formulas. But we all analyze it in some way. We cannot be prevented from doing so. Analysis, even cheerleading, brings like-minded people together and separates (or cause the separation of) people.
Who to Kill
Donít kill anybody.
Killing is wrong within every society.
Killing is damaging. It is the most destructive thing you can do to a family.
Killing is right between societies. You have to kill the hated enemy. If a member becomes an enemy, he is no longer in your society. Then you get to kill him.
Empires are cruel. They only eat and grow until their size exceeds their ability to organize itself. It consumes much poison.
Unless you are one of its many victims, the Empire might appear magnificent.
The American Empire is the largest social structure that has ever raised its bloody head.
The Invention of Thought
How does the individual intellect develop?
Starting from a single cell to a child within the body of the mother to a child more or less attached to the body of the mother to an adult attached to the social body, the intellect goes through great transformations.
What does it know and how does it know it?
The Enlightenment Project
The Enlightenment was the beginning of the cleaving of knowledge from its owners.
That knowledge is not the exclusive property of Authority.
The training included languages, science, history, and philosophy. Eventually, the information provided became interesting for its own sake and gradually decoupled from the schoolsí religious intentions. Felix Mendel.
The Reillusionment is the coalescence and absorption of knowledge as fuel for the imperial power.
The Embryology of Ethical Knowledge in the Presence of the Imperial Singularity: A systematic personal epistemology on the brink of the abyss.
Buffy and Boomer Take NYC
Two young professionals locked in the straight jacket of modern life.
As with all post-modernity, critical statements are tribal in their origin and target.
Ridicule is the first line of defense.
Most men attack most ideas just to be seen doing so.
The Singular Solution to the How-It-Is Question
The origin of criticism is in the conflict of world-views and their supporting paradigms. It is in the main a dispute over How It Is.
That there is a single solution to How It Is.
That Science (or some other religion) is the single solution to How It Is.
Philosophy is Useless
That philosophy is passe, useless, and quaint.
That the American Empire is not an empire at all, that America is a nation composed of people who are kind, benevolent, generous, truthful, helpful, has saved Europe twice, in short the very Boy Scouts of humanity.
It is only through the insidious lies of the hated real enemy that folks are misled into believing falsehoods. The success of the lies is due to bad marketing and insufficient bombing. Those who do not love us must fear us.
Perhaps they are right, that the Empire is a myth, that is fundamentally untrue but myths are among the truest things around. The American Empire is not less so than the Roman or the British.
If the word has meaning,
Philosophy is nothing less than the sum of all human knowledge, the collection of all the facts and suppositions, so labeled, as well as all falsehoods, including but not limited to lies, fictions, music, nonsense, mathematics and the history of the philosophers themselves who appreciate knowledge sufficient to their label.
It also includes all the statements about the statements including attempts at systemization of the statements such as Logic and Mathematics and Language.
Philosophy is what articulate people do: talk about what they think know.
A structuralist interpretation of the history of nations.
Political structures are like massive objects such as planets or black holes.
The pervasiveness of power distorts the creation and reception of events that occur within its field.
Imperial power, such as the phenomenon of the American Empire of the 21st century, extends everywhere in the minds of people. It is pervasive globally.
Because the American Empire is an idea, it has no borders or rather talk of borders is conditional.
Might makes Right.
Control is the only alternative to chaos.
How we allow ourselves to be muddled by the cheap tricks of pundits.
That knowledge could be freed from the bondage of institution.
How science is being subsumed into power politics, how it must serve the economy, that which images, what feeds and clothes us, and entertains us, what enables invasion and occupation, and destruction.
How the individual, in spite of claims to freedom, is ever more in bondage to the accreting political establishment. Our freedom is to consume its symbols and so master the natural world. , living in a constructed world while yearning for nature and reality.
Suppressing the Scream: Artist and Empire
The individual creates/constructs himself by isolating himself from his context, declaring independence from authority, setting himself apart from the matrix, the cultural materials laying around him.
Paradoxically, he constructs himself with the cultural materials available: bits and pieces of history, advertising, advice, immediate perception, language, cautionary tales, warnings, and painful experiences. These are for the most part fabrications, cultural artifacts, fictive bricks. Props of his artificial life.
I wake up from my dreams, which are mundane or terrifying, forgettable or not. They are only dreams. In their warm, erotic embrace, I accept them. I reject their phobic terrors.
I yawn and stretch and shower away the surface. Unencumbered, I am innocent again.
Time is not so precious.
At coffee by my window, I pick up my morning paper in disappointment. Once again, itís just a collage of advertisements cunningly jumbled up with sensational reports of murder, theft, accidental death and dismemberment, war and scandal, all designed to keep your eye on the product line, the soap and the shoes and the cars and the vacation getaways to remote and isolated paradises where people are packed like sardines to maximize the profits.
And the weather report. But I can see the sky just fine myself. The beautiful blue is especially beautiful in the morning.
At my window, I lay the paper down and pick up my cappuccino. Instead of cocoa, I sprinkled some ground clove on the foam this morning. A little change now and then can make your day. I look down at the dirty street. A man trudges to work, his eyes playing mechanically over the cracks and trash in his path. Heís deep in the canyon. I can see more of the sky.
I could go for a run to the top of the hill. Itís safe up there, during the day. From the park, Iíll breathe some new air and watch the city below, the slow, snaking traffic, the sound of sirens, and above all the lovely sky. Maybe a puff or two of fog will run away. Thatíll be my weather report. The man below turns the corner and disappears.
I turn a page. Somehow, it sneaks in, the real world does, and, in an honest moment, I catch a glimpse. Iím distracted from my boredom and my pleasure. I turn from my immediate task to face the fact.
People are being killed by the thousands by honored men, cheered on by their parents, brothers, friends, people who donít know them at all but who love them anyway for their own prideful reasons, people who pay with their sons and their dollars and still the cost is not covered: war begets a debt that is a long time in paying and even in the paying increases the debt. Generations come and go without forgetting. Hatred smolders and demands revenge.
What can I do? I pay too. I pay my taxes. It would be more than inconvenient to not do so.
But I can at least say something. How can I fail to speak up in the face of outrage? Genocide? Mass murder? Bombing of babies? The slaughter of innocents? The continual holocaust scourges the people.
How can merely speaking be enough? Merely expressing my outrage is insufficient to the task!
But the crowds! There are so many. And they donít know me. They canít hear me. Iím too far away.
Even up close, the ones that can hear me, dismiss me. Ridicule me. Accuse me of treason. Vermin. Parasite. Traitor. Iím not one of them. Iím not human. I can be beaten. Killed.
They cannot change their minds because that would mean turning to the others in the mob, to which they have so joyously bonded, turning against the very mob of which they are a fiery member, a torch carrier, a willful agent, a front-line grenade thrower, at last belonging, howling with the pleasure of belonging, turning to them and telling them, unpracticed, that they are all wrong, that they must turn to each other and convince each other and admit that they are wrong and to go home and confess to their families and friends that they are mistaken, that they are no longer cells in a righteous body, that they must think about what they are doing, and listen to the cries of the dying and count the dead.
But itís not about the truth. However well articulated, however excellent the rhetoric, however clever the allusions, however fundamental to the human soul and psyche the appeal, however red the blood on the pavement, it cannot be heeded.
When the enemy is clever, cleverness is not a virtue. Cleverness is a virtue only when it serves the righteous. Everything the unrighteous says and does is wrong. Hateful. Everything the righteous says and does is right. Beloved. All that while the speaker laughs at the cruel logic, the cruel result, the incessant advancing motion of the mean mob, cruelest first.
I can only scream an anguished, inarticulate, animal, guttural, cracking, utterly forlorn, mad scream.
But if they hear the scream, they will be even more convinced.
The scream is the sound of fear and fear is the next to the last damning property of the guilty. After the scream there is only the fleeing and the pursuit, the kick and the kill, and the display of the bloody hated head. The least of them step forth to scorn and scourge the corpse. Just another victim leaving its foolish bones upon the earth.
The scream is no better than silence yet something must be said.
For the conscious, creating person, there is nowhere to hide. The artist cannot yield to resignation, cannot surrender to oblivion, cannot fail to try to speak, and cannot cease swimming the heaving bottomless ocean of postmodern culture.
The artist cannot be prevented from speaking; advising, and warning. The artist indicates and generalizes, debates and refutes, teaches and listens, dominates and submits, moderates and projects desires through the channels of attachment, points of contact with the thought-space, adapting memory, perception, and intention to the extant artistic language and its capabilities for abstraction, generalization, argumentation, and sedation.
The artist is anyone who makes things, something that others can see. Even in finding and referring, identifying, indicating, there is art. Art is the fabrication of human artifacts, materials shaped into representations of other things that can transcend their time, escape from their place.
The artistís relationship to the community is the channel of communication, the umbilical, the medium through which ideas are exchanged.
Because our species is so general and adaptable, because we can construct our lives from whatever is available, furnished with arctic ice, abstract ideas, the skins of animals, stone, we do not know what to do, as children, what to desire. We learn what to do, what to want, and what to hate by imitating others. We copy their gestures, their language, and their erotica, and their friends and enemies. We imitate.
We identify the objects of desire from advertisements, from movies, from our friends, our families. They tell us whatís in and whatís out, who to believe, what to eat, who to vote for, what to wear, and who to hate. As social creatures, we imitate each other. Thus the individual constructs itself, furnishing its mentality with whatever is laying around. .
To join the mob is to imitate or create its fabrications, to identify, and to value the target as desirable or hated.
We choose and consume the symbols of our culture, joining the club.
Every symbol has at least its name and a ritual distinction of one thing over another.
Ritual imprints the member, stamping a constraint on what we say and do around the symbol, creating a virtual object, reifying. The object is an illustration or instantiation of symbol.
It is this commerce in symbol, the choosing of the container of the objects of desire, that creates the individual consumers, cells of the body of culture. Thus the material comes to be within the grasp of the immaterial.
Of course, we are not collections of symbols; we live on the ground in our boots; anyone can see that.
Symbols enable convenient paths through the possibilities.
If the author is constructed during the reading, then so is the reader.
What happens to the reader when the author is undermined? When the author turns out to be a liar or plagiarist or a forger or agent of the hated enemy or a crazy person or someone who is distrusted by someone you trust? What if the author turns out to be a machine?
What happens to me when we construct an author with relief as he takes positions that are familiar to us, echoing and extending our very own thoughts, justifying our actions, identifying our enemies and our friends. We should carry him on our shoulders! What do we become then? The greatest genius is the author who agrees with me, who extends my opinions, who is who I want to be. I will buy that man.
How do the author and reader functions support the great homogenization?
In antiquity, the author is often lost or never known. Who wrote the books of the Bible? The stories that were received by the scribes? The falsifications? The authors of plain chants were not known and had to be inferred. In Shakespeare's time, one admired the stories and characters and not the authors. Who were the authors the ads that play such a big part of your cultural life? Who writes the opinions with which the consumer of the news furnishes his cerebral apartment?
Many biographers of Shakespeare are unconstrainedly worshipful and as such try to partake of the writer's greatness. Fans of Shakespeare can be outraged that their images of the poet is being broken, dispersed, given another name while fans of Marlowe might be rising in grandeur, both parties eager to meet on the field of battle to defend their genius. One has faith in ones champions and will follow them wherever they go.
about the news? The anchor is not
the author whose work likely came over a news
service, possibly with a single by-line, through
many editors. Even if the article
originated locally in one of our ever-shrinking
newspapers, who told the reporter about the
editorial guidelines, what to write about and how
to write it, what is the educational level of the
regular customer, what will the advertisers think,
the stockholders, the National Security Agency,
political groups, boards of directors, rights
groups, the police, the army, foreign governments,
the enemies, scientific communities, people who
write letters to the editor. All exert their
influence. The ascribed author becomes a
passive instrument, a pen, a keyboard and monitor.
The author, formerly the source of true facts, has
become yet another agent of culture delivery a
product that satisfies the buyer's craving for
reputation and the microscopic thrill of routine
The newspaper has much in common with pornography. Regular customers, the greatest prize of the marketeers, scan the products for virtual sensations. The press feeds on scandal. An unsolved rape-murder of a child sustains interest for years in the tabloids. The more prudish readers of the New York Times prefer their scandals wrapped in intellectuality. Sensation-addicts scan the pages looking for the juiciest articles while dodging the ads. Porn is all juice. The viewers view themselves as knowledgible, cleverly seeing what's hidden inescapably at the core of human existence or sighing over the progressive ideality temporarily sent into recession by ignorance, stupidity and evil-doers.
At what point do you dismiss an author, rejecting all his works as polluted by a falsehood, contaminated by an incorrect formulation of what must be the obvious truth, as unstylish, out of fashion, already has been seen, even named?
Isn't the function of reading to become a reader who is somebody, who can tell the truth, identify what can be talked about, what is exciting, who is to be admired, and what is not to be admired? How does the reader fit in with his larger community, the forces of homogenization.
Is the author of a work of fiction one of the characters? What if the character is evil? Is the author evil?
The truly dangerous author is not to be tolerated. He might undermine not only my worldview but my self as well. He might make possible entirely new modes of thought, modes that even deny his own ideas, destroy him as author and enable a new kind of being to step forth in all its revolutionary disorder.
Why not keep going?
Bold new work digs up and replaces art.
Great art must include the fractures it creates in personality, deepening its own destruction beneath the onslaught of apathy, fire, legislation, and ignorance. Art forms a complementary pair with stupidity. There is no other way for the immaterial to grasp the material. Some day forever, you will be ounces of ash. Right now, you have a grip.More here
Selflessness is an old idea, one of the many possible intentions of some systems of meditation and ascetics.
These are even more difficult to achieve in today's self-centered culture. Ego-psychology, self-esteem, career-progress, the assumption of world-view, all the ephemeral rewards of individualism form up the self as an essential core of existence so much so that there is no alternative. Any other mode of existence is unthinkable. Rather than minimize the self, the modern individual is likely to demand a reward or a medal or a title, a certification that he has abandoned the self, and consequently the self re-achieves gigantic size.
I once heard a person calling into a talk radio show on Buddhism and preambling extensively about his 34 years of experience with the subject, obviously wanting major applause. I supposed that he was stuck on himself and, while he probably learned some important formulations, he was utterly incapable of following his own advice. If you see Buddha on the path, kill him.
Even if you did achieve selflessness, someone else might notice it, adopt you into their pantheon of saints, talk about you, worship your precious phrases. What a great burden! Shucking off the load would probably irritate your followers and eventually they would have to kill you. The killers would fade away but memory and records of the event might survive to build up a fictive history with you at the center, utterly misunderstood.
The threat to the self by destroying the author is likely to defer the creation of the self, which fails to assemble in relation to the author but will assemble in the absence of the author as an even smarter person, akin to the reader who dismisses the writer; the self once again appears as an intellectual giant demanding recognition and validation and respect.
How can we write without creating the author or the reader? How can we focus on content and let go of the honoraria of achievement in the face of the understanding of the difficult-to-understand? The ad hominem embrace is just as distracting as the ad hominem attack.
One way is cunningly to harass the authorís multiple aspects from the page, continuing to interfere with the budding relationship and then, anticipating the appearance of the reader, to deal a mortal blow to the neonate.
Itís not what you think it is. It never is. Thinking and it, even when thinking of it, are never the same, except when thinking about thinking, which is to envelope your escape from logic briefly, finally, but not forever because only nothing is forever.
Something is only slightly more substantial than nothing at all, and then only before analysis begins.
If you were to take a careful, unconventional look at humanity throughout its long and tragic history and even to peer into our prehistory, those idyllic times when earlier hominids roamed about hunting and scavenging, you might question whether there is any hope for us at all. Humans are about conquest, if not land and its creatures then our fellow humans.
Expose this doubt to the conventional and youíd likely to be accused of losing hope or even, heaven forbid, its deliberate abandonment.
So many of the people I know, myself included, use hope as a thick insulating layer that protects us from the stress of the knowledge of the brutal nature of our species. Stress is too innocent a word! Outrage bordering on a psychotic episode is a more appropriate reaction to our persistent interspecies and intraspecies slaughter.
And so, instead, we end every investigation with a hopeful note, which permits us to go on about business as usual, hoping that someone else will do something about it and of course immediately ready to applaud them when they do and of course to feel good about ourselves. After all, progress is driven by the quiet aspirations of the multitude. Hopefully, nobody really has to do anything. Nothing in particular drives progress. It just happens.
Gently press the conventional and you might get the shrug of resignation. After all, what can one person do besides fervently hoping and mildly apologizing before going back to sighing over the news, shaking oneís head sadly, and musing over yet another chocolate chip cookie?
Hope is the opiate of the progressive.
Friday night, after the long, hard week, driving a team of analysts and vast herds of data through the wild terrain of international business, I betook myself to a restaurant most favored by my presence. I sat down gratefully to observe the sunsetís mood over the muttering ocean and to peruse the menu assiduously. I enjoyed a beverage while reading the appetizers,hearing the soft chatter of the other diners in twos and threes, enjoing the main course, of course, then aperitif and dessert. Iíd burn it off in the morning at tennis and be more than ready for golf after a light lunch.
My eye was caught by the window, not the window, which was generous enough, but the figure of a ragged child walking along the building, passing in front of my window, and casting her glance mournfully toward me. There was something I saw in her face that seemed profoundly familiar.
I jumped up decisively, strode swiftly to the buildingís entrance, slowed to a casual walk with a dollar bill in my hand.
I returned with a sigh, played sentimentally with the ice in my glass, and hit the road in my new car.
As I swung out of the parking lot, the last of the sunís golden light lingered on the edge of the black and blue sky, I felt at one with the great cosmic world and drove over the crosswalk faster then I should have, realizing only later that I had interrupted the modest dignity of a mother with two children, the smallest of whom was the girl that passed by my window, and the father as well, looking away, thinking today was not the day to kill his man.
Itís not fair for the board to blame me for not doing something.
There are many things I have
not done. Iím
not being a millionaire, nor
a gazelle prancing across the savannah, nor am I
rebelling against the king of a small Caribbean
island, nor flying with wings to the moon. I never
have been the emperor of
One is so much more not what one is.
On NPR I heard that one of the Boston Marathon bombers made it to the cover of Rolling Stone. Anyway, one of the disembodied voices on the radio objected to the face on the cover because the bomber was a ďmonsterĒ. What a bold thing to say, anonymously over the phone to a nation to whom the word Terrorist equals Enemy and Enemy equals Monster.
The US War budget hit $750 billion dollars recently and thatís not counting the quarterly expenses requested and granted. Additionally, we are blessed with the $250 billion dollar defense appropriation annual expense. These trillion dollars are directed to salaries of those laboring within the hardware and software supply chain, the production and consumption of weapons systems, their managers and stockholders.
A trillion dollars buys a lot of friends and their friends tag along as well because the war effort stimulates international business, moves money and requires administration.
War is an international
business for the United States government. Through
our alliances, particularly with NATO and
War is iconic in American culture. It is merely recognized and reacted to ritually and it persists. Even the least of us is empowered by participating in the ritual. Nothing can be done about it. It is the most stable political institution ever to curse our little world.
For a pair of essentialists, there is only the communication between the essences, which can at best influence the receiving essence. The individual essences are essentially unchangeable. They can learn things but they have no history, no beginning and no end.
However, in the post-modern world, a speech act constructs the speaker and listener both. More accurately,
The Speaker ======>|
The Speaker As ===>| |
|=> Difference Generates Stress
The Listener =====>| |
The Listener As ==>|
The Speaker differs from the Speaker As in the distance between his actual behavior and the ideal or general advice the he projects. These two poles occur simultaneously.
And the Listener bifurcates into what the Speaker thinks the Listener is, essentially, and what the Listener should be, the Listener As.
And from the Listenerís point of View, yet another set of oppositions fires as he asks, ĎWho do you think you are, telling me all this stuff?í
It is just this opposition of one element against the other that produces the multiplicity of meaning and nuance, the interplay of ambiguity, the jesting equivocation that passes for conversation between humans, that which creates postmodern human consciousness.
Over time, all combinations occur, as the essences try mostly to avoid each otherís positions (who wants to be constructed by someone else?) and thus create a slippery algebra of repulsion, as one cannot be seen agreeing with the other.
Add other virtual personalities to suit your taste for complexity. They hover over our shoulders like angels, now advising this grand metanarrative and then that.
I am a dissonance of careening opinions.
After tasking the
We could once again feel privileged to bomb and invade vulnerable countries whose leaders defy our foreign Policy.
We are steeped in the reassurance that things are getting better. Almost every piece of entertainment, news, song, and novel, every sign refers to progress. Every scientific fact indicates a modest gain toward the continuing glorification of our species, another brick ornamented with the name and number its inventor.
No one has to do anything to promote progress, apart from a mild hoping sensation or a manageable misgiving about invading a new market. Or just consume the objects of desire for which you have the funds.
So much of what we do for each other is reassuring, which is necessary for the status quo. We cannot continue to feed 7 billion people and commit great political crimes without being recreated and reinforced frequently, each and every one of us, each in our group. The person becomes apparent by participating in the reassurance, by articulating its myths, performing its rituals, celebrating its heroes and worshipping its sacred objects.
The Theatre of Cruelty would remind us that humans are a later event in a process that includes viruses, bacteria, fungi, protists and multicellular predators, creatures that only care if youíre good to eat, youíre going to eat me, or already eaten. Later larger predators might swallow you whole after a severe shake to break your back and down you go. Rattlesnake will wait until you die, not wanting you to claw your way out going down.
But there must be a unity somewhere; there must be assuagement. Devoted to comfort and security, how can I bear to look at the ultimate rape that is the long life.
Humans bring the lunging reptilian impulsiveness into complex intellectual domains of prey, inhabited by troops of ideas, ruminating herds of consumers of novels, prides of opinion, stampeding mobs of primitive nationalists marauding through the crowds of statements, consuming the vulnerable in their movement. Stable aggregations on the family and global-corporate level persist.
I only want to hear about the war, keeping it distant or sometimes for spice with a feeling of satisfaction, or deplore it mildly, suddenly, feeling good about myself, as if only with the gentle prodding of the person into actualization of their essential goodness, only then could progressive society move forth to its teleological destiny of peace and love. The great crimes of humanity could not be committed without an abundance of platitudes with which the multitude reassures itself of its beneficence.
The vast amount of art and literature is devoted to war in the form of technological weapons and their documentation, budgets, and the tiny part left is thus designed by ourselves to conserve how it is. We live in the Theatre of Reassurance. We stayed there on weekends as children and were welcome thereafter.
We become who we are when turning our lovely eyes upon its convenient spectacles, piped into our lairs, piping out new riffs blown for real somewhere on this wild planet, received passively, poured into our eyes and ears at a nickel a hit. Itís really one big happy sit com so keep your seat, keep your ticket. Go to work. Spend your money. Sell yourself into wage-slavery and spend the rest of your all-to-brief life buying back your freedom and at last, at the very end, youíll notice at least once that itís empty of everything except regret, except the children bred to the same.
But we live in the theatre of reassurance, and so we will continue to sing happily in our chains until falling silent at last. How else can the secret of the ages remain mysterious. Worst of all is to try to explain it and worse than that is telling the kids. How else will the ticket-mongers feed their spawn.
If I want to get to the bottom of things, I have to ask a good question and here it is...
How did we let President Cheney bamboozle us into the murderous war on Iraqi civilians?
How Cheney pulled off the war is clear enough. Bill Moyer's The Selling of the War (http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/btw/watch.html) provides plausible answers. Any newspaper article or TV news program provides more. In fact every war is proceeded, accompanied, and followed by propaganda.
But that doesnít mean that we have to buy what they were selling. How did we let him mislead us into the war? Are they brilliant? Are we stupid?
The unconscious is suspicious, fearful, aggressive, impulsive, ignorant, inarticulate, and domineering. It hungers for its object and thus is the source of our distinction. It drives us to recognize the Other as friend or foe. It cannot be seen or controlled. It can only be interpreted.
Driven by paranoid fear and sadistic aggressiveness, our inarticulate unconscious breathes through the mask of personality, which forms words and sentences. In the encounter with the Other, personality is created and recreated in the moment. The personality is formed socially by alliance and enmity.
The social identification of the Other as a foe harmonizes with the paranoid unconscious and creates the personality. We don't need to know anything about the enemy, only that it is the enemy. The enemy of our enemy is our friend. The friend of our enemy is our enemy. The social identification of the enemy creates our personality. We become who we are in war. We recognize each other in combat.
The mob is the common hatred of the Other, making a closed, familiar system. The Other is included in our circle. We could not exist without the Other. It's not possible to destroy the Other.
There is no essential person beneath the mask. The idea of oneself is yet another utterance breathed through the mask. You can only see yourself socially. Integrity is an utterance that insists on wearing one mask, a single face. Meditation is an effort at integrity.
There is no logic or reason beneath the mask. There is only the will to dominate, to order things.
Cultures cannot learn. Only the mask, that which articulates our primal howl of fear and rage, can learn. We are only the mask, the thinnest of membranes, sufficiently strong (maybe) to keep the inside apart from the outside.
The unconscious will to dominate encounters opposition and cooperation. A social action is the vector sum of all its wills.
Warriors and anti-warriors are exactly alike in their differences.
Thus warrior and anti-warrior, the slayers and the slain, join up and do the dance of death, the music of empire, while someone in the back sells the tickets.
The Stanford Prison Experiment and the Miligram Experiment present some evidence that personality is constructed in the moment or at least in the situation in which the human subject finds itself.
More specifically, people in positions of authority tend to become authoritarian.
Believe it or else.
The art of reassurance cannot be seen because it is too familiar. It is merely decoration and decorum, amusing camouflage, something to hide in. It cannot be destroyed but only annoyed. It covers the vast bulk of humanity like a baby blanket.
The Theatre of Cruelty is a violent criticism of the art of reassurance.
If the Theatre of Cruelty is merely spoken of, it should terrify the reassured. If it actually shows up in his town he must run for his life while specially trained technicians in hazmat suits dismantle the figures and their arenas and bulldoze the ruins into the cellars. Only then can the reassured go back to sleep.
The cells of which we are composed evolved via natural selection, sexual reproduction, and by lateral transfer of genes and of organelles.
The nucleus, mitochondria, cilia and flagella originally were different organisms that came to live together symbiotically in the ancestral cell. Viruses left gratuitous pieces of themselves. The complex apparatus of sexual reproduction might have been the result of similar annexations.
The eukaryotic cell is a monstrous chimera that evolved not merely by eating other creatures, not by merely digesting the tissues of other creatures, tearing apart their proteins, sugars, and fats and then reproducing its successful self when well-fed, but by reusing the creatures in whole or part. We are a stitched-together union of a variety of creatures who enhance their reproductive immortality by hitchhiking a ride with each other.
The outlandishly scandalous creature that is the eukaryotic cell does not have a moral position. Neither in its parts nor in its whole can it be either benevolent or malevolent, although we, the human collection of collections, carefully read ethics into ethology to serve our collective selves.
The cell cannot have a unified essence, a single entity from which we can claim to derive our individual being.
We are already adding machines to our bodies. The Cyborg is the latest eukaryotic iteration.
Wherever we humans have gone, we have driven other species into extinction. The Paleo-Indians were not ecological saints but hunters hungry for meat who reached the southern tip of South America a few centuries after arriving in Alaska.
In addition to prey-food, humans attacked, drove, killed, raped and enslaved earlier human occupants of their newly invaded territory. Growing paleontological evidence exposes the possibility that humans commonly died violently. Did we murder off the Neanderthals?
Is genocide the same old story with us?
How does the personality, that self-serving mask covering trillions of cells, act globally?
The stories of evolution and neurotransmission tell us how social animals came to be but not how we became imperial. How does a young man, selfishly prideful, proceed into the belly of the beast of war?
The impulse to imitate is strong in the identification of a common enemy, driving hatred, providing an excuse for the violation of social commandments, and unifying the mind and body and society as well.
The secret of the social being is being together.
It cannot be that we are spiritual beings. There can be nothing in the universe that is not some arrangement of matter, space, energy, or time. We must immediately reject the world of mind.
And yet we actually live in a mental world that is free to ridicule the materialist proposition, free to spin fantastic lies about the hated enemy, free to expose those lies, freedom to create works of art whose materiality has nothing to do with its content, and we have the freedom to sleep through it all.
The materialistic argument, that we are composed only of the four elements, is irrefutable but unlivable. The materialistic argument is interesting when it surprises me with developments in science and technology. It becomes useful when I can form up as a fan of a particular formulation, becoming a thought-leader to those lucky few who hear me speak at length about some superficially understood scientific factoid.
War gives us a place to stand. It calls forth allegiances and promotes mobilization. Allegiance sounds glorious but mobilization sounds like sacrifice to me. I might have to do something in addition to feeling good about myself.
For the artist, allegiance sounds like something being created from nothing. After all, we propagandize ourselves into war, propaganda ourselves during the war and after the war too as we exercise our instinct for self-justification. More of the same.
Thus we have in view perfectly opposing pairs of objects that when juxtaposed provide cunning ironies that gleam like a polished edge of steel or the dull lead of a speedy bullet. We have the created artist becoming a personality in the gap between the ironic elements.
The Theatre of Cruelty reminds us that we already are and always have been a cruel pack of animals. It interrupts our silence, disrupts our sweet nostalgias, disturbs our witty devotion to ritual comedy, chills our chatty conversations delightedly digressing from one trifle to the next, and sours our pleasant smile as we arrive Monday morning at our workshop.
The Art of Cruelty feeds on silence.
The audience is not safe from Cruel Theatre, which is not a place for you to kill time between restaurants. Not a comfortable seat where you can expect to be entertained and to complain if youíre not. Itís not a roller-coaster ride where youíre strapped into a comfortable seat, thrown around gently, and allowed to scream. Itís not a movie that flashes tits and ass and men with guns and bodies with blood and then lets you leave after 100 minutes of popcorn.
You should look over your shoulder with fear at its mention and flee as though chased by the Black Death if it shows up in your city. Authorities should level the theatres of cruelty, dumping their broken bricks into their cellars.
Only then will we be safe.
Holy is the madman who figures it all out, who eliminates one dead end after another until he arrives at the single compelling truth, which satisfies all questions, which must be spoken and must be heard.
Letís vilify all crackpots, arriving at the truth, the many truths competing for your attention like wildflowers in the field broadcasting their unappreciated beauty and dying to leave their hopeful seed.
Except for a grudging patch here and there, letís mow down all the wildflowers, leveling the land for business parks and factories and shopping malls and apartment buildings and the freeways to connect them in perfect convenience, to get from one place to another, to be on the move. Letís plant flowers between the buildings and recreate perfect nature.
Letís knock down all the buildings and tear up all the roads and live in the ruins while the wildflowers poke up between the shards of brick and glass to see the sun and recreate their own kind again and again, irrespective of what I want.
Letís pause for thought on the freeway of life for as long as we live forever. Letís carefully examine the onrushing traffic. Letís write it all down on tissue paper and recite its poetry into the wind and the rain.
Tom Brokawís book is a collection of the modest stories of modest people involved in a great enterprise. They are generally what we would call ordinary people who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances and who adapted and contributed to the American effort to defeat the Axis powers in WWII.
Itís really a book of saints where common men and common women are sanctified for our benefit or the benefit of the country we work for.
Itís as if to say that we United Statesians are all great and only need to step on the stage of great events for our greatness to become apparent and be written about by some champion of journalism.
In none of the stories do any of the saint-like figures ever make even the slightest mistake, ever deviate from their determined path toward perfect modesty and honor.
No mention of the millions of civilians killed by American and British bombing raids, no mention of the war rape that gleefully accompanies all invading armies, no mention even of the selfish and deliberate ignorance of our senior government officials who allowed the war to begin in the first place, no mention of the support for Hitler among the British and American aristocracy (Joseph Kennedy and the Duke of Windsor, for example) no mention of the phony war in Europe, and the decades-long rape of Korea and China.
The book ignores far more things than it extolls. We could find in the enemy equivalent personalities with equivalent virtues of modesty and diligence and courage and sacrifice and would say that they too belong to the greatest generation. After all the German soldiers who tried to push through the winter to Moscow must have displayed many examples of heroic behavior and the Soviet army, with its deprivations, its enormous tasks and Stalinís cruel interference, losing 30,000,000 people in the war, must have produced heroic sacrifice.
But that would be celebrating virtue in general and the book would not sell so well. Besides, in empire, everything is about empire. Even its revolutionaries are fascinated by its exploits, even if only to decry them.
The best-selling book is only about American virtue, which is eternally exceptional. It rationalizes American foreign policy and implies that we must face bravely and unconsciously the New American Century. We can and must invade vulnerable countries whose dictators defy American foreign policy, killing its civilians by the hundred-thousands. The most interesting thing about the book is the huge amount of material left out, as though the world were split in half, leaving the United States possessed by its isolation, possessed by a vision of the other and possessed by honor.
How can you think out of the box if you donít know youíre in a box?
Discourse, of course, can lead to the reduction of a domain of information, which is interpreted in a language or symbolic order, described in general terms, which tends to reduce the number of statements, as each tries to embrace more detail.
The reduced information is then interpolated, extrapolated, and, most visibly, articulated, dramatized, extolled, and upheld.
Reduction is a creative process in that new items are added to the domain of information.
The sad limit of reduction is reification where the reduced statements are reapplied to the domain, each simplification serving to mask a wealth of detail, the summaries substituting for the original facts, making genuine interaction with real events impossible. After all, we compose the bare facts of the domain of generic words and idioms and are honestly trying not to prescribe or proscribe but merely describe the objects in the world.
However, the descriptions cannot survive as knowledge any more than the objects in the world can be seen without a purposeful being whose perception is selective and gratuitous. The descriptions carry an advising rider that tell the interlocutors how to think and talk, how to make the scriptions useful.
In addition to reducing the domain of information, discourse can be exploited to open the consciousness of the interlocutors. The fuel of oxidative discourse is the paraphrasable concept, the reduction, which must be scandalous to be useful.
Oxidation extracts the latent energy of the concept, its leverage, its analogs and persuasions, its shock, to transmit being via the personality, the current mask of the agile speaker and the listener.
The oxidative process is destructive in that it feeds on the constructions produced by reduction. The oxidizer is irony, what was meant to be hidden suddenly revealed, the revelation of hypocrisy, stupidity enlightened. The reduced oxidants are obvious targets to be shot down, precious nuggets to be dug up, and fantastic myths to be exploded.
We shouldnít be glad that the immaterial has a grip on the material.
The immaterial is largely ignorant of the material. The immaterial, which is the more or less collective mind of humanity, is inseparably based on the brain but does not know the brain in all its detail, its neurons and its networks, much less the relationships between the billions of human minds.
Immateriality can know only the tiniest fraction of the detail in the cosmos. In all our lives, we act pugnaciously within an overwhelming ignorance. Our boundless bellicosity is the most accessible layer of the unconscious, that which identifies and exploits, hates, loves, demonizes, sanctifies, mystifies, deifies and destroys the other. A group of humans is a lynch mob searching for a victim (anyone will do) or a passive audience or an association of critics who hang back pretending to be above the fray or the vast distracted ignorant who couldnít possibly care less.
The only problem is humanity. Humans invented the words in which problems can be expressed and handled. The problem is that humans have minds capable of symbolic processing, originally useful in hunting and gathering, but whose capabilities turned to other occupations. Our symbolic-processing capability demanded employment and hence we talked about the hunt of the past, named to the hunted, drew their representations on cave walls, chanted the first songs, ritualized the first religion and established the first science. And in the separation between universe and culture that was made possible by mind, we began to live and act irretrievably within myth and all its lies and half-truths.
At some point, all weíll have are pictures of animals that used to be so important to us. Human invasions drive megafauna into extinction. Agriculture and cities destroy habitat. Letís watch while heating up the atmosphere and the oceans to see more species perish. As we experience our own extinction crisis, letís eat the last of any edible and accessible species.
Letís suppose we run for US Congress. Or the state legislature.
Not being the only person with the same idea, weíll put together a campaign run by professionals. Weíll have to match the budgets of many opponents during the primary and finally one well-financed opponent on Super Tuesday.
Our attorney says we have financial support from several publicly traded or privately held corporations.
They say the corporate lawyers have drafted a set of bills and our team is excitedly working on a synthesis of the best ideas.
We have to write our own speeches but they, the corporate lawyers, have generously delivered a set of talking points to complete our case, points that have been used in other districts with similar demographics and worked well.
Theyíve also delivered a schedule of people to meet, some at elegant dinner parties, some working sessions with a university, a caucus or two, golf, and the vote on the bill itself.
They ask that we follow the schedule in detail or next year they will fund only our opponent.
Itís your choice.
Scratch a Russian, the saying goes, and you get a peasant. Scratch an American, you get a farmer. Even the wealthiest and most famous of todayís Americans are probably no more than 3 generations away from the farm.
Choice is something that peasants pretend to exert.
Political candidates in opposition that you can see are financed equally. All politicians have to answer to their real constituency: their financiers. It doesnít matter who wins the popularity contest to the financiers, which makes the peasantís vote meaningless.
The choice between two brands of commodity is irrelevant as long as you buy one of them. A real choice would be to buy nothing at all, which has great power and lies unused.
Political discussions among the peasants often pivot around right and wrong but have no impact on what happens politically. We exercise our right to choose and then go about our business of producing and consuming.
Real political discussions already have concepts of right and wrong that are translated into loyalty and disloyalty. People making real decisions have no choice but to choose within the options of the given political policy, which is loyalty. Right and wrong, independent of loyalty, do not enter into the equation.
Descartesí cogito is not merely a self-evident proof; itís an act of creation as Descartes and the entire swarm of individuals is self-evidently brought into being.
Descartesí proof could not have occurred much earlier. Anselmís proof, isomorphic with Descartes and published in hierarchical times, justified belief in God, the supreme hierarch.
The PBS programís marquis is a montage of sky rockets, rousing music, skylines, rocket ships and Ted Kennedyís voice ďÖhope lives on, the dream will never dieÖĒ
What hope? That another Kennedy would be president?
It couldnít be that liberal Democrats would occupy the White House, as Jimmy Carter already lived there. In fact, Kennedyís bid for the job split the party and promoted Carterís defeat, replacing him with Reagen, the Acting President.
The American Experience really means that even the humblest liberals must be stirred into patriotic action. You are expected to lay the corpse of your child on the altar of empire.
In the search for fundamentals, scientists and their fans have focused on scientific methods, the results of that research and the development of consumer, business, and military products as well as greater and greater research tools with which to probe ever deeper the mysteries of physics.
I, the fan of science, the scientisimist, have boldly stepped forth, my consciousness swelling up to occupy all of space, time, matter and energy, becoming an entity without edges to grasp, uplift and overturn, without ends or beginnings, no history, and without a center.
The personality of the scientisimist, that mortal being stuck in the center of his universe of amateur science, with great pride announces the truth, condemning and punishing heresy.
Objectivity has been replaced with the greatest subjectivity of all.
By now weíve heard of nihilism, that nothing in life has meaning, that meaning = 0.
Is that the worst we can do? What if there were negative meaning? What if life had anti-meanings?
Put the anti-meaning next to meaning and both would disappear.
Sooner or later the anti-meaning would be exhausted and not be able to destroy meaning any longer.
What if there were more meaning in the universe than anti-meaning?
What if thatís the way it is?
Trotsky, in his Literature and Revolution, ridiculed writers insufficiently supportive of the revolution, such as those mourning artfully for the Tsar, worrying for the democracy, or like Nero dallying for a useless art, all surreptitiously praising their own worth while denying the greatest event in history.
Which city is burning today? Where is the crisis of human life being acted out again. Where is the library burning, the prophet slaughtered, the innocent offered on the altar to the god of sadistic greed.
And in the choosing of the cause, a personality appears before its august ceremonies of the posse, the club, the party. In each public statement there lurks a teacher and a student. The guileful teacher, the student docile or not, each itself a gratuitous assemblage of disparate parts, ever in need of maintenance, both together they resemble their parts, a conditional, contingent recognition of each other but also a driving need to inform and to modify, to dominate and submit, control and eliminate.
On the radio I overheard a man admitting that an anti-ballistic missile system can be overwhelmed and thus not protect all cities but, he countered, if only one city was saved, if Philadelphia could be saved, then letís build the weapon.
A classic point of rhetoric, compare the great to the small. Now I can wonder if the man spent every waking moment trying to defend Philadelphia. Every penny of his income, all together far smaller than Philadelphia, every moment of his time. After all, what is the worth of one honest man compared to all the lives in Philadelphia. No picnics with the family, no golf on Sunday morning, no new cars, no more driving through the country for the air, no poker with his friends, fewer phone calls to his mistress. The lesser must always be sacrificed to the greater.
Or it could be that no one listened to the man, not even he himself, that construct assembled by his handlers, a structure that has been here before and is now here again. It could be that writers have freed themselves to write about anything they wish, about the old days, or the future, about the rich and famous and the ignominious, about the frivolous, about nothing at all.
Meanwhile the city burns.
In 1984, Orwell put a video camera in every house so the party could keep its eye on you. This is an undoable project because viewing and reviewing all that footage would soak up too much labor and besides some classes of people would be exempt. Itís about power, after all, and power will have its privilege. But the implementation of power must be efficient or it will fail.
The cunning of consumerism has accomplished the same objective, control of the mass of the populace, by placing a video-projector in every home instead of a video-camera. Because the message creates its recipient, the audiences are manufactured by the billions.
Thus we use technology not to monitor the individual trying to escape hierarchy, but to produce the consumers who donít notice the hierarchy and who pay for their production.
The essential individual is the atom of empire. Both must be exposed as murderous lies.
Dare to drive a stake into the heart of the essential individual.
The hedonist-consumer cannot separate desire and action. One must like what one is doing is equivalent to one must do what one likes.
On discovering that one does not like it after all, the consumer feels deceived and is not very happy about it. The disappointed consumer is a cruel critic. There must be someone else to blame.
All the theorems in the algebra of hedonism are reversible. Itís good because it makes you feel good. Self-sacrifice, which does not feel good, must be masochistic and pay off in pleasure to continue the formulation that action equals desire.
In the archaeology of culture, which means digging through the layers of text deposited over time, we might discover continuities that prompt the question: What drives a particular change from stratum to stratum? What great disaster produced the change in the fossil evidence?
I read Wikipediaís article on the Doomsday Book, which was a record of property for tax purposes to stabilize the income of William the Conqueror. On a commercial site, in the tiny sample translation I read, there is no mention of marriages or births in the Domesday Book. And no mention of law, old or new. Property only.
The site www.wirksworth.org.uk.frontpag.htm lists parish records and nothing appears before 1600. A random look at the ALLCOCK surname reveals terse records from as early as Oct 28 1633 and includes marriages, births (probably baptisms), some occupations, and witnesses.
Another site: https://www.dorsetforyou.com/388470
ďIn 1538 Thomas Cromwell ordered that all parishes should compile registers of baptisms, marriages and burials. In 1597 an order signed by Elizabeth I required that the parishes had to use parchment registers and that previous entries go[i]ng back to the start of her reign (1558) be copied into these registers. The content of the registers is often different as it depended upon what the individual vicar wanted to record. Early registers commonly include baptism, marriages and burials in one volume, usually in Latin.Ē
The absence of evidence of pre-1600 parish records is of course not evidence of absence but if we look at law and literature as a record of controversy, the orders ordering the recording of marriages and baptisms in parishes must have been a new thing. Why else issue a law and why else write a play about marriage as the natural order of relationships?
I claim that there was a bringing together of the governments secular and ecclesiastic with the people they governed, an increasing ordering of society, and not just top down but appearing on all levels, more or less simultaneously. The crowning achievement of the time was the evolution of the choosing individual, who did not exist as a celebrated mode of being until that time.
The individual, as tentatively brought forth by Shakespeare and Marlowe, continued to evolve commensurate with its ever-changing society, buffeted by economic, political, technological and demographic revolutions until, in our time, the individual mode of being is at its end of its long and badly-frayed rope.
The wiki article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-Individualism serves as an introduction to the evolution of the individual.
Devoted to superficiality, pretending to smile, painfully, because it is far more relaxing to just sit there, slack-jawed, sighing at the brutalities of the crowd, mourning the loss of my sense of humor, a thin membrane of ignorance containing the far greater and more exciting inner brutality of dream and fantasy from the corrosively ugly and dangerously beautiful physical world.
It is the job of work of most artists and other people to patch the membrane that separates inner space from outer space, to keep beyond the wall the phobic horror.
Some artists have taken on the task of blowing holes in your membrane.
Take a moment to thank them.
What they do, those fucking straw men, is repeat the compulsion to decency, order, civility, the non-rocking of boats, the inoffensive, the nuance that denies vulgarity its rightful place, in short, all the constraints of civilization spiced with the slightest reference to sexual misconduct while trying to edge toward the border of decency that they created without daring to approach and certainly without going over the top. Thus they confine their potentially great souls in the smallest possible fraction of their petty imagination.
Nor, of course, can you inform them, the fucking straw men, about their self-imposed prison, that which keeps them stuck in the subordinary mourning of the irretrievable loss of the glory of freedom, that prevents them from even hearing about greatness, let alone see a glimpse and never in a million years walking however briefly in the splendor of full expression and unbridled perception.
Nor could the fucking straw men possibly exceed their limitations because they are in common cause with the decent who view or refuse to view the vulgarity of pretended murder, depictions of violent rape, who ignore and embrace without passion the fantastic brutality of our species, our nation and our party except in microscopic scandals of titillating titters while looking over one shoulder to ensure no one is looking and the other to mourn the loss of innocent joy.
This eight-part TV series from HBO is about two policemen trying to solve a crime.
The producers employed the usual cop-and-robber tropes, certainly extending them and maybe creating one or two new techniques. In the foreground, the honest-but-flawed officers must operate within background of the exotic southern setting with its citizens portrayed as stupid-religious-hicks, the high-level bureaucratic interference, and the incompetent police officers collecting their salary for doing nothing.
The familiar tropes thus give the audience a familiar position from which to make familiar judgments about the action, which tends to stabilize the audience over time, reinforcing the illusion that we are who we think we are at the center of an accurate and unchanging worldview. In a new series, there can be very little that is new.
The show opens with the usual sacrifice of a young woman whose remains are, in the way we have of speaking, graphically depicted. Itís important to note that this is a work of fiction and that it is the producers who have sacrificed the young woman for the benefit of the audience. Thus the show opens with the symbolic subjugation of the woman and the ascendency of the men who must avenge her.
We are a species of rubber-neckers who must cast our gaze on thrilling horror and report the shock of recognition back to our friends. It is the job of work for the producers of TV and cinema to produce spectacle for us to see with delight and disgust, to produce the spectacle-watcher who sits passively in front of the screen for the thrilling roller-coaster ride and then who walks away to go about his tiny business.
Anyway, the produced audience member is likely to be excited, appalled, outraged, titillated, repulsed, attracted, impressed, provoked to thought, provoked to doubt, and provoked to insecurity by this exceptionally well-made series.
Played by Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughy, the cops are in sharp contrast to each other. Rust Cohle is monolithically pessimistic with a Christ-like insights into the human condition. Marty Hart is split down the middle, bouncing wildly between his own bullish sexual greed and the bullish piety of the responsible citizen. They are perfect instances of our culture and its manifold reactions to and participation in violence. Each watching citizen on his couch can find himself within these two characters.
Their lives intersect in police work as they mostly cooperate in the mostly intellectual task of analysis. In the usual CSI-trope way, they clinically examine the evidence, exposing ever more lurid details for the insatiable lust of the audience member while moving the story along its bumpy dirt road. Harrelsonís and McConaughyís consummate acting abilities construct realistic characters that reconstruct the audience to appreciate them. They are realistic in that they not only call up the common illusions of what is real but reproduce the person as observer who appears fully formed with ideas of reality already in place.
True Detective is a wish-fulfillment dream of a male-dominated culture that uses women as love-dolls in domination-fantasies. Marty Hart uses his wife, children, mistresses and criminals as props in his own dream of male magnificence. Rust Cohle places his wife and daughter on pedestals where they cannot be addressed. He cannot even talk about them and so his contradictions are invisible. Crime victims and sex objects are the only role open to the many actresses in the series. To keep the fantasy safe, we use fiction to prop up our worldview.
There is no attempt to understand the criminal. He is just a criminal who bears the label and has no history, nothing in common with the citizen safe and sound in his den. He is merely the hated enemy who must be hunted down and killed on sight.
Sprawl is central to the story. Is crime a local event that can be understood and be brought to focus under the lens of justice? Or is violence indelibly printed within each cell of our body, each person either a secret perp or a deliberately ignorant citizen who looks the other way and thus makes the underworld safe for its criminal denizens? What delights does the citizen enjoy while watching crime shows? In reality or in crime fiction, is each citizen both?
I recommend watching this excellent series and at the same time watching yourself.
While United Statesians think of themselves as individuals imbued with distinct qualities, we are becoming more and more alike. The citizens of many other nations follow the pattern.
In the economic sense, an empire is a wide and deep extension of doing business.
Business is driven by the wealthiest business men who make the decisions.
Business tends to place people in regimented pyramids of power. White-collar workers are placed in nearly identical cubes or offices. Differences generally mark rank.
Blue-collar workers are placed on assembly lines where they tend to do the same task every day. Even when tasks are switched, the technique of switching tasks is systematized.
For all workers, management techniques have become the subject of homogenization as techniques are invented and copied within and among systems of power.
Businesses can spawn differences with their branding of product lines. Other businesses tend to duplicate the products, adding just enough difference to the product to avoid patent and trademark lawsuits and still capture part of the same market.
Businesses can create new products and new markets but systematize their creative processes.
Businesses discriminate among candidates. Profiling, labeling, selecting.
Schools extrude workers and prisons extrude criminals.
Consumer technology tends to mass-produce, distribute and advertise gadgets that are desired by a wide public, who are made the same by shopping for the same things. The grand unifying force is shopping: if you want something, shop for it.
Technology can also spawn differences in that rivals for a market can produce different products, although they tend to share the same features and the same market.
Technology can spawn a do-it-yourself attitude, independent of the usual channel for such products. However, businesses are quick to provide purchasable support for the do-it-yourselfer.
Technique is a way of doing things, such as design, manufacturing, and marketing of consumer products.
To stay competitive, business compete within a market or create new markets.
Business persons are trained in management techniques. A department devoted to customer relationships is commonly broken down into marketing, sales, and support. Human resource departments need to have benefits, salaries, on-boarding, and off-boarding. Design departments need creative personnel who can work well together. All departments need reporting and data security. All buildings need building security. Production facilities should be optimized for productivity. Quality control policies must be implemented. The supply-chain must be efficient. Superior methods tend to propagate. Inferior methodologies fall away.
The individual has not always been with us. Humans for millennia were hierarchs, obeying their superiors and expecting obedience from their inferiors.
Individuals in English literature appeared about the time of Shakespeare.
Cultures tend to manufacture the kinds of people they need and people respond by creating the culture that manufactures like-minded people.
Entertainment, clothing and gadgets are the most common choices that modern humans make and the particular choices make the particular person.
All individuals are identical in that they are created in the moment of choosing a product to consume.
Having the choice means having the money to buy something, which means a job, which means having only the tiniest choices during the workday.
Shoe manufacturers produce a wide variety of shoes for the consumer. Everyone must go to the store and pick out their shoes.
Particular cultures came to into being and preserved their particularity by competition, often violent, with other cultures.
When a larger culture assembles subcultures for a multicultural display, the subcultures must get along during the event. The subcultures are lined up for examination, side by side, with their differences on display.
The observation of a subculture outside its context of competition destroys the very reason for difference.
Subcultures can indulge in non-violent competition, such as soccer. But as soccer becomes a world event, players are traded among teams, training becomes standardized, and the fans move from city to city and thus flatten their loyalty. The teams become less different.
Symbolic competition can erupt into violence but the managers of events efficiently minimize the violence.
The sports spectacle is similar to all spectacles in that a corporation markets and produces the events in secure arenas and sells concessions, independent of the particular sport or the teams involved. Difference becomes symbolic, official and flat.
Religion can divide people. People will kill for their ideas.
The techniques of crowd control employ difference. There must be the good people to be rewarded and the bad people to be punished.
Islam has provided an alternative to the American empire but in doing so must reinvent the techniques of crowd-control. Additionally, Islamic Fundamentalism provides a common enemy for the American Empire to be used as a unifying principle for its citizens, businesses, and religions.
A culture must have its enemy.
A culture without external enemies will find enemies within.
Equality before the courts of justice is an anthem of most modern nations. The justice system can be modeled as a method for classifying people and thus treating the classes alike. White-collar offenders are often not punished at all, as mere exposure and career-damage is often enough. If punishment is warranted, there are special minimum security facilities available where the inmates can live and play in security.
Public defenders mass-process low-class criminals by who plea-bargaining away the suspectís legal opportunities. The convicts are stored in vast warehouses of cruelty overseen by well-paid guards. Upon release, the convicted felons are identical before the law and before business.
The upper-class of a culture needs a recognizable under-class and vice versa.
It is the job of the demagogue to preach incessantly to the mob about the hated enemy.
We are achieving a high degree of control of the material world via our intellectual ideas born by the spontaneous personalities of human beings.
As we increasingly separate from nature, we try to live in our ideas, seriously cavorting with a collage of theories, facts, fantasies, ideals, sympathies, images, hatreds, accidents, memories, phobias, desires, overwhelming assaults, all the spectrum of intellect, while dealing more or less simultaneously with the material world.
Carried by the personalities that pop in and out of existence, structured sets of ideas roam, structuring and destroying, spontaneously active or dormant, and all the while enabling their up-holders in the cultural world.
In every human relationship, every action, every statement, conversation, message, and advertising slogan, the masked actor steps forth in the best possible light, before the original tribe.
We privilege our handiest intellectual relationships, making the distinction that creates personality, eliciting consonant with the imagined tribe.
Itís not about the truth.
Itís about privileged information, which enables its upholder to become a member of the privileged group. Knowledge is not fundamental but merely a claim worn as a badge of authority.
The vibration between the thinking and the doing enables personality.
Get underneath the relativity of experience.
Express our experience in the most general way.
Look to the creature underneath the layers of opinion, the personal history, the jokes and the seriousness, and the upbringing. Look to the lure being trolled for your benefit.
The product of newspapers is the person holding the material, the kind of person who sits down with the daily paper, overlooking the ads in all their cunning sublimity and shameless claims to value, day after day, and imagining the world in some contrast to their everyday experience.
Television mass-produces watchers who habitually stay home bathed in commercial violence, news of disasters and scandals, and slapstick comedy and the tiniest snippets of art. Movies produce loyal fans of celebrities. Pop music produces fans of the artists. Art produces aficionados, the heroin produces addicts, and alcoholic beverages produces habitual drinkers. Tobacco marketers do produce cigarettes but are most vested in producing smokers. Create your market by creating your buyer. Advertising is not about information; itís about being.
Beneath the surface of every discourse, every dream, its motor is the system of power that gives it motion, enables work through time, enemies, allies, the objects of desire, and every peripheral connection that humans crave, a fantastic symphony of oneís own ideas and perceptions and the memories.
More importantly, and much harder to see, it actually produces who we are. We are being manufactured.
Near the center of the personís discourse is the construction that appears from the outside to be the person. The person is a set of masked fictions, one produced for each occasion, defended by the personís rationalizations, catechisms, dismissals, arguments, political actions, pride, claims of universality, modesty and all the tricks that serve to maintain a personís temporary reputation and supposed being.
Post-modern existence drives a stake in the heart of materialism and the individual claiming to know material.
I found this on the web at http://faculty.washington.edu/cbehler/teaching/coursenotes/stefanZM.html
ZWEIG, "The Monotonization of the World"
as "Die Monotonisierung der Welt," Berliner
Anton. Jay, Martin, Dimendberg, Edward. The
Republic Sourcebook. University of
California Press, 1994. pp. 397 - 400.
potent intellectual impression, despite the
particular satisfactions enjoyed, of every
journey in recent years is a slight horror in
the face of the monotonization of the world.
Everything is becoming more uniform in its
outward manifestations, everything leveled into
a uniform cultural schema. The characteristic
habits of individual peoples are being worn
away, native dress giving way to uniforms,
customs becoming international. Countries seem
increasingly to have slipped simultaneously into
each other; people's activity and vitality
follows a single schema; cities grow
increasingly similar in appearance. Paris has
been three-quarters Americanized, Vienna
Budapest: more and more the fine aroma of the
particular in cultures is evaporating, their
colorful foliage being stripped with
ever-increasing speed, rendering the steel-grey
pistons of mechanical operation, of the modern
world machine, visible beneath the cracked
has been underway for a long time: before the
war Walther Rathenau prophesized this
mechanization of existence, the dominance of
technology, would be the most important aspect
of our epoch. But never have the outward
manifestations of our ways of life plunged so
precipitously, so moodily into uniformity as in
the last few years. Let us be clear about it! It
is probably the most urgent, the most critical
phenomenon of our time.
One could, to make the problem distinct, list
hundreds. I will quickly select just a few of
the most familiar, uncompromising examples, to
show how greatly customs and habits have been
monotonized and sterilized in the last decade.
conspicuous is dance. Two or three decades ago
dance was still specific to nations and to the
personal inclinations of the individual. One
waltzed in Vienna, danced the csardas in
Hungary, the bolero in Spain, all to the tune of
countless different rhythms and melodies in
which both the genius of an artist and the
spirit of the nation took obvious form. Today
millions of people, from Capetown to Stockholm,
from Buenos Aires to Calcutta, dance the same
dance to the same short-winded, impersonal
melodies. They begin at the same hour. Like the
muezzin in an oriental country call tens of
thousands to a single prayer at sundownólike
those twenty words, so now twenty beats at five
in the afternoon call the whole of occidental
humanity to the same ritual. Never, except in
certain ecclesiastical formulas and forms, have
two hundred million people hit upon such
expressive simultaneity and uniformity as in the
style of dance practiced by the modern white
race of America, Europe, and the colonies.
second example is fashion. Never before has such
a striking uniformity developed in all countries
as during our age. Once it took years for a
fashion from Paris to reach other big
cities, or to penetrate the countryside. A
certain boundary protected people and their
customs from its tyrannical demands. Today its
dictatorship becomes universal in a heartbeat.
New York decrees short hair for women: within a
month, as if cut by the same scythe, 50 or 100
million female manes fall to the floor. No
emperor, no khan in the history of the world
ever experienced a similar power, no spiritual
commandment a similar speed. Christianity and
socialism required centuries and decades to win
their followings, to enforce their commandments
on as many people as a modern Parisian tailor
enslaves in eight days.
third example: cinema. Once again utter
simultaneity in all countries and languages, the
cultivation of the same performance, the same
taste (or lack of it) in masses by the hundreds
of millions. The complete cancellation of any
individuality, though the manufacturers
gloriously extol their films as national: the Nibelungen triumphs
Italy and Max Linder from Paris in the most
German, most nationalistic constituencies. Here,
too, the mass instinct is stronger and more
authoritarian than the thought. Jackie Coogan's
triumphal appearance was a more powerful
experience for our day than was Tolstoy's death
twenty years ago.
fourth example is radio. All of these inventions
have a single meaning: simultaneity. Londoners,
Parisians, and Viennese listen at the same
second to the same thing, and the supernatural
proportions of this simultaneity, of this
uniformity, are intoxicating. There is an
intoxication, a stimulus for the masses, in all
of these new technological miracles, and
simultaneously an enormous sobriety of the soul,
a dangerous seduction of the individual into
passivity. Here too, as in dance, fashion, and
the cinema, the individual acquiesces to a
herdlike taste that is everywhere the same, no
longer making choices that accord with internal
being but ones that conform to the opinion of a
infinitely multiply these symptoms, and they
multiply themselves from day to day on their
own. The sense of autonomy in matters of
pleasure is flooding the times. It will soon be
harder to list the particularities of nations
and cultures than the features they share in
The complete end of individuality. It is not
with impunity that everyone can dress the same,
that all women can go out in the same clothes,
the same makeup: monotony necessarily penetrates
beneath the surface. Faces become increasingly
similar through the influence of the same
passions, bodies more similar to each other
through the practice of the same sports, minds
more similar for sharing the same interests. An
equivalence of souls unconsciously arises, a
mass soul created by the growing drive toward
uniformity, an atrophy of nerves in favor of
muscles, the extinction of the individual in
favor of the type. Conversation, the art of
speaking, is danced and sported away, theater
brutalized into cinema; literature becomes the
practice of momentary fashions, the "success of
the season." Already, as in England, books are
no longer produced for people, but increasingly
as the "book of the season"; as in radio an
instantaneous form of success is spreading which
is announced simultaneously from all European
stations, and annulled a second later. And since
everything is geared to the shortest units of
time, consumption increases: thus does genuine
educationóthe patient accumulation of meaning
over the course of a lifetimeóbecome a quite
rare phenomenon in our time, just like
everything else that can be achieved only by
What is the source of this terrible wave
threatening to wash all the color, everything
particular out of life? Everyone who has ever
been there knows: America. The historians of the
future will one day mark the page following the
great European war as the beginning of
the conquest of Europe by America. Or, more
accurately, the conquest is already rippingly
underway, and we simply fail to notice it
(conquered peoples are always too-slow
thinkers). The European countries still find the
receipt of a credit in dollars a cause for
celebration. We continue to flatter ourselves
with illusions of America's philanthropic and
economic goals. In reality we are becoming
colonies of its life, its way of life, slaves to
an idea profoundly foreign to Europe: the
economic obedience seems to me minor compared to
the spiritual danger. The colonization of Europe
would not be so terrible politically; to servile
souls all slavery is mild and the free always
know how to preserve their freedom. The genuine
danger to Europe seems to me to be a matter of
the spirit, of the importation of American
boredom, of that dreadful, quite specific
boredom that rises over there from every stone
and every house on all the numbered streets. The
boredom that does not, like the earlier European
variety, come from calmness, from sitting on the
park bench playing dominoes and smoking a pipeóa
lazy waste of time indeed, but not dangerous.
American boredom is restless, nervous, and
aggressive; it outruns itself in its frantic
haste, seeks numbness in sports and sensations.
It has lost its playfulness, scurries along
instead in the rabid frenzy of an eternal flight
from time. It is always inventing new artifices
for itself, like cinema and radio, to feed its
hungry senses with nourishment for the masses,
and it transforms this common interest in
enjoyment into concerns as massive as its banks
the source of that terrible wave of uniformity
that gives everyone the same: the same overalls
on the skin, the same book in the hand, the same
pen between the fingers, the same conversation
on the lips, and the same automobile instead of
feet. From the other side of our world, from
Russia, the same will to monotony presses
ominously in a different form: the will to the
compartmentalization of the individual, to
uniformity in world views, the same dreadful
will to monotony. Europe remains the last
bulwark of individualism and, perhaps, of the
overly taut cramp of peoplesóour vigorous
nationalism, despite all its senselessness,
represents to some extent a fevered, unconscious
rebellion, a last, desperate effort to defend
ourselves against leveling. But precisely that
cramped form of resistance betrays our weakness.
Rome, the genius of sobriety, is already
underway to wipe Europe, the last Greece in
history, from the table of time.
What to do now? Storm the capitol, summon the
people: "To the trenches, the barbarians are
coming to destroy our world!" Cry out once more
in Caesar's words, this time more earnestly:
"People of Europe, preserve your most sacred
possessions!" No, we are no longer gullible
enough to believe that with associations, with
books and proclamations, we can rise up against
a world-encompassing movement of such a
monstrous sort and defeat the drive to
monotonization. Whatever one might write, it
remains a piece of paper cast against a gale.
Whatever we might write, it does not reach the
soccer players and the shimmy dancers, and if it
did, they would no longer understand it. In all
of these things, of which I am mentioning only a
few, in the cinema, in radio, in dance, in all
of these new means for mechanizing humanity
there is an enormous power that is not to be
overcome. For they all fulfill the highest ideal
of the average: to offer amusement without
demanding exertion. And their insurmountable
strength lies in the fact that they are
unprecedentedly comfortable. The new dance can
be learned by the dumbest servant girl in three
hours; the cinema delights the illiterate and
demands of them not a grain of education; to
enjoy radio one need only take the earpiece from
the table and hang it on one's head, and already
there is a waltz ringing in the earóagainst such
comfort even the gods
would fight in vain. Whoever demands only a
minimum of intellectual, physical, and moral
exertion is bound to triumph among the masses,
for the majority is passionately in favor of
such; whoever continues to demand autonomy,
independence of judgment, personality even in
entertainmentówould appear ridiculous against
such an enormously superior power. If humanity
is now letting itself be increasingly bored and
monotonized, then that is really nothing other
than its deepest desire. Autonomy in the conduct
of one's life and even in the enjoyment of life
has by now become a goal for so few people that
most no longer feel how they are becoming
particles, atoms in the wash of a gigantic
power. So they bathe in the warm stream that is
carrying them off to the trivial. As Caesar
said: ruere in
servitium, to rush into
servitudeóthis passion for self-dissolution has
destroyed every nation. Now it is Europe's turn:
the world war was the first phase,
Americanization is the second.
is a psychiatric term used to characterize
schizophrenics and their psychological
relatives, the schizotype. Due to a mental
disability, anhedoniacs cannot participate in
wordís cousin is hedonism, the embracing of joy
as a way of life.
symptomatic of our culture that the negative of
hedonism must be some hideously unspeakable
disease. We can only hope that it is not
the amateur psychotherapists (and who among us
can resist speaking in these terms when
confronting our opponents?), it resembles
masochism and depression. In discussions,
these terms are used as weapons by which to
discredit the speaker who exhibits the
symptoms. Itís really, by now, an antique
ad hominem attack: If you donít like what
someone is saying, shoot the messenger.
Donít bother examining their statement for its
truth-value in the light of logic and evidence;
merely ridicule to dismiss. Weíll get a
good laugh out of it and isolate the carrier of
this loathsome disorder.
are the offerings of allegiance to our tribe,
which must be consistent with its conventions,
which are collective experiences that can be
offerings must be dismissed scornfully and their
insistence must be countered with shunning, at
least. The heretic must be cast out.
America, love it or leave it.
to explain the hated statements using logic and
evidence encourage more condemnation.
Philosophy as a discipline is often dismissed
when probing conventions. Philosophy is,
among a great many things, a set of tools for
examining statements as to their
truth-value. A hedonistic society cannot
permit doubts as to its deeply held belief that
we are here to enjoy ourselves. Anybody
who doubts the obvious must be crazy.
principle can be applied more widely: The
individual ego-centered universe imagines the
world as his opinion being taken
seriously. He will tolerate no
opposition. To question the supremacy of
the individual is to doubt our currently popular
sleep, produce and consume!
Reproduction is critical because propagation of the interested tribe and their culture is what defines and maintains the living creature that is its culture. Not just the bodies, like locusts, but their books and music, tools and buildings.
To reproduce your culture Ö
Invasion, coercive force, propaganda
Build and displace
Cyborg human/machine relationship
Including human/human, machine/machine, human/machine.
Technique, catalog of all human effort
Books and Music