Hermit's Weblog
everything your mother never taught you about how the world really works.

Sat, 18 Aug 2007

For Adam: Old business, fun interlude

Usually I post here all manner of comment on the world of politricks, as the Rastifarians often call it. Below something from almost 10 years ago, when I was invited to participate with some serious European academics on a philosophy discussion list. I was a fish out of water, but made a big splash before being kicked off. Below is one of my favorite posts, which my son Adam asked me to find and place on my blog (I am prone to tell it as a favorite story in which I star). It's his birthday present, he just turned 25. Only the names have been eliminated in order to protect the guilty. Also I cheated and added a couple of things that weren't in the original e-mail.

"XXXXXXXXX XXXX wrote: " As for criticism of Darwin: You attack Darwin, you also attack Nietzsche. So read your Nietzsche before you think you have a relevant and solid case against Darwin. Nietzsche is the Darwin philosopher."

Dear XXXXXXXXXX,

As you may guess, I am one of the masses. I spent the day (7am to 3pm) working in a light industrial environment, wrapping folded papers into bundles (did 100,000 today, 111,000 yesterday - the machine broke down today for a while). Lots of repetitive movements, driven, in terms of rate, by a machine that is mindlessly relentless.

The movements are not very complicated, which does allow for part of my mind to disengage and wander about for a while.

Given your statement above, I got to thinking about what was a "philosopher" in the present (post-post-modern?) time. Some ideas:

A paleontologist of the history of thought; an ecologist of memes; someone with too much time on their hands; an obsessive-compulsive with a lot of paper and pencils; a seeker of truth (good grief, where did that one come from) and so on.

I did wonder what purpose, in today's world, we could say a "philosopher" fills. I am distinguishing between a scholar of philosophy, and the guy/gal whose original thought is somewhat staggering, as regards us more ordinary folk. I wondered if a philosopher is someone who seeks the truth, or whether, in our more modern times, a philosopher has become someone whose ego urges him/her to put forward their "individual" paradigm as something everyone else ought to think.

Then there is "continental" philosophy. Lots of books, long complicated books.

It has probably gone unnoticed, but in America, since WWII, all the brilliant minds that would usually become philosophers, became instead cartoonists. Think about it.

Bugs Bunny is a major proto-anarchist; his one fault being that he was created in a corporate environment, and never quite allowed to apply his perfect "attitude" to social commentary. Still, "What's up doc." has to have historical philosophical significance.

Walt Kelly's Pogo, was a valiant effort, but really only a precursor. All the same, "we have met the enemy and he is us" is so wonderfully intuitive of modern politics, one has to bow their head. The awards and honorable mentions follow:

In the Zen-minimalist category, as runner up, we have Bill Gaines and Bill Elder's remarkable creation in Mad Magazine in the l950's, namely Alfred E. Neuman, and his pithy expression of the '50's ambience "What, me worry?"

The winner here, however, is another Bill, namely Bill Griffith, whose creation Zippy, the Pinhead, gave us that remarkable expression of the zeitgeist: "Are we having fun yet?" This last has become ubiquitous in the work place in America, although few know of its origin. I wouldn't be surprised if this phrase has become world-wide in its use.

In the more profound category, we have a number of attempts. Bill Breathed's Bloom County, Gary Trudeux's Doonsbury, and the anti-feminist Cathy, by Cathy Guisewite.

But runner up honors have to go to Dilbert, by Scott Adams, which has captured, gutted and filleted the corporate culture, which so dominates modern life.

Yet, all these pale in comparison to one voice, that of Bill Watterson, and his creation, Calvin and Hobbes. No one has taken hold of the human condition in quite the same fashion. Watterson has retired now, which shows another remarkable quality, quit when you've said what you came to say.

For those who don't know this "toon", Calvin is a little boy, perhaps 6 or 7. Hobbes is a tiger. When Calvin's parents are around, Hobbes is drawn as an inanimate stuffed toy, about a third the size of Calvin. When Calvin and Hobbes are alone, together, Hobbes is easily twice as tall as Calvin, walks upright and talks.

Here is a four panel (daily), with Calvin and Hobbes walking outside in the winter. Calvin: Nothing I do is my fault. My family is dysfunctional and my parents won't empower me! Consequently, I'm not self actualized! My behavior is addictive functioning in a disease process of toxic codependency! I need holistic healing and wellness before I'll accept any responsibility for my actions! Hobbes: One of us needs to stick his head in a bucket of ice water. Calvin: I love the culture of victimhood.

Or this one, another four panel: Calvin: I used to hate writing assignments, but now I enjoy them. I realized that the purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning and inhibit clarity. With a little practice writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog! Want to see my book report?

Hobbes (reading the report): "The dynamics of interbeing and monological imperatives in Dick and Jane: A study in psychic transrelational gender modes." Calvin: Academia, here I come!

So it goes, as Kurt V. says.

I have not forgotten Jules Fieffer, but he was too "affected". Nor should we give too many kudos to Robert Crumb, and his Mr. Natural. Crumb is too dark, and to self involved, thus really lacking a vision of the universal which a real philosophic "toon" needs.

I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere some anarchist teaching assistant is actually putting together a philosophy or sociology course, featuring Calvin and Hobbes.

As to Neitzche and Darwin ... "

the rest of the e-mail wasn't worth that much in any event

[21:37] | [] | # | G

Sun, 12 Aug 2007

A Small Note on Method

Some readers of this blog may at one time or another ask why I seem so certain as regards matters that to more than a few would seem almost like a conspiracy theory (Lords of Finance and so forth), or at least something well off the charts of a conventional analysis of current events. The matter is rather simple, although not always easy in execution.

I make one principle assumption, namely that there are people quite capable of seeking to rule the world from behind the scenes, and who have enormous wealth and power - enough equal to the task. My secondary assumption is that they lack morality of almost any sort, albeit this is not so much an assumption, but as much an observation of history.

Those who rise to power and wealth, rise to such status mainly through a certain callus ruthlessness. The way to power requires such an attitude, for the field of competition (as it were) is filled with those who take the same attitude. In a sense the path to wealth and power requires certain attitudes of soul, which I have called here callus ruthlessness. As a consequence, those who succeed in reaching the level of what I call the Lords of Finance are trained by their journey into such characteristics, otherwise they would never succeed as against the rest who are competing in the field along side them.

Secondary to this observation and assumption, I try to keep the widest awareness of events, both small and large. Many such events clearly make no sense on the basis of conventional assumptions, and certainly they make no sense in terms of ordinary political and social discourse. Some of these events are anomalous as against the general background textures of world events. Many people notice these events, and many try to explain them (witness the somewhat flawed film Zeitgeist - do a google search on google videos to see this film). The events can be made to interconnect if one takes the same assumptions. A problem can arise when those trying to make these connections become true believers as regards their thinking.

Becoming a true believer, in my view, makes it more difficult to understand. On the other hand, the process I take is a bit more dangerous for the soul life, for it requires that we inwardly for a time look upon the world as if: we had unlimited wealth and power, access to the best paid for minds on the planet and didn't really care about the consequences of our actions. That is we think as if we were the Lords themselves, and calculate what we would do in order to insure our rule over time and increase our personal position as against the rest.

Taking this view then causes the events, especially the anomalous ones, to acquire order. By imagining ourselves looking from above down upon human society, as a field of gamesmanship, conquest and perhaps even prey, the true manner of our manipulation and its characteristics appears as a quite intelligent pattern in the order of events in the world. We see that such and such had to be done in order for the Lords to advance toward their goals. Let me give an example.

A number of "moves" in the game have been made as regards civil rights in the United States. These appear on the surface, and are treated by the thinkers on the Left, as if the egotism of the President and the Vice President were seeking to advance the Executive Power of the Constitution and free it somewhat from any restraint by the Legislative Branch or the Judicial. The Left then advocates a political response, to try to rein in this overstepping of power. As I pointed out in the Bill Moyers piece below, to think this way is to miss the true nature of the moves on the board.

The Lords anticipate a time of financial crisis, brought on by their own manipulations, and a kind of third worlding of many Western Democracies. This will result in social chaos, many unemployed and all manner of civil unrest. Since the style of the holders of power, whether Republicans or Democrats, will be to try to hold society together, and to preserve "law and order", there needs to be at least the appearance of powers that can be applied to try to restrain the resulting unrest. I use the term "appearance" in order to suggest that they don't actually have to succeed in having the actual legal power as long as they can claim to have the power.

The apparatus of the State, even in a contemporary democracy, is a concentration of power. This power is raw power, and with callus indifference to the consequences, Bush and Cheney have been using this power for some time. At each use, they invented a "legalism" as a kind of excuse, and knowing that their risk is short (they leave office soon) there is no reason not to exercise the power, because it takes too long for the other (and weaker) aspects of the State to limit that use. So the analysis of the Left (the Right doesn't care, having become whipped into a froth over the freak sideshow of seeming moral-social issues) is to act as if the State was actually healthy enough to balance the legal equation, when the whole game is being played at a level few yet recognize.

From the point of view of the Lords, they succeed if the rules of banking and finance never become a campaign issue, a matter in which the Democrats have cooperated (except for the Nader and Chomsky camps). As long as the main public dialog (all the weird campaign debates now ongoing) remains away from that truth, it makes no difference to the Lords which party wins the next election - no difference at all. And, because media personalities are so weak-minded and burdened with their own assumptions and confusions, even if a candidate were to try to speak the truth, the media would ignore them and the American Public will remain in blissful ignorance.

When the time comes - when the economic collapse happens, ordinary people will be so fearful of social chaos, they will support the exercise of raw power (something proven at the time of 9/11 and the run up to the Iraq War), even though it is against their interest. At least this is what the Lords count upon.

As I said previously, in the Bill Moyers entry, this is a calculated risk by the Lords, for although they have great temporal power, they have little real spiritual or moral power. At the same time, what is done at the social commons (instead of above where the great game is played) remains not yet awake enough. Seems like its time to go to youtube and sing a song.

[22:33] | [] | # | G

Gingrich speaks and misses the point - again!

Newt Gingrich, one of the author's of the current state of terrible affairs in American politics, made a well received speech urging a fundamental change in the election process. His solution is to give to the winners of both parties nominations, enormous television time (and hour and a half on Sunday nights for nine weeks before the election), in order to raise the level of political discourse.

Gingrich makes this proposal after doing an analysis of the current state of affairs in which he cherry picked all his facts. He made thereby a formidable presentation, because he got to arrange his set of facts in an environment entirely different from which he wants the candidates to debate. He spoke alone, had all the time he wanted, and nobody was present who would question his fundamental assumptions or point out the facts he ignored.

It is hard to dismiss many of his observations, such as the poor level of political discourse, the failing national infrastructure, the mess in education and on and on and on. If we examine (as did not happen) his dialog in the same fashion that he believes could happen in the proposed debates between the nominees of the two parties, he could have been questioned on whether the parties themselves can be seen as capable or trusted to actually carry out the fundamental changes our Nation needs.

He made a facile distinction between the part of society that works (business) and the part that doesn't (government). In this, he missed entirely the discussion of our founders that concerned itself with the question of what does government need to do. (see my comments below on Sicko).

When asked about campaign finance reform, again in this venue where he really isn't confronted with his own biases, he found reasons to disagree with public financing. If effect, he just continue to represent the same biases and assumptions as a conservative political operative that he did when he contributed to the present ruined state of affairs in America, while he was Speaker of the House.

In the main, he advocated a solution to poor political dialog, by putting it forward in a situation that was itself poor political dialog. Of course, he totally avoided even a hint of recognizing the fact obvious to most of us today, namely that money rules and unless we get the Lords of Finance out of our bedrooms, paychecks, banking accounts, grocery stores, health care system, educational system, military spending, foreign policy and legislative halls and on and on and on, nothing is going to get better.

It was a clever speech that meant nothing, and was entirely superficial in how it complained about other superficial political discussions.

[16:38] | [] | # | G

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