Crossed Logic / Teaching / Thinking Tools /
@ K. 2002 12 29

Crossed Logic, Incompatible Types

Temporarily this file is a note pending my making time to quote the passage(s) in Gregory Bateson which form the foundation for today’s thoughts. I’m not even sure yet what the title should be.

Human culture is full of bullshit hierarchies, but it doesn’t follow from that that all hierarchies are illegitimate. The school pretends that the teacher is smarter than the student, the church pretends that the priest is better in touch with god than the commoner, the democracy pretends that the president is a better leader than the radical in jail … In contrast, there’s no illusion involved in the logical difference between … Wait: I’ll use Bateson’s example.

The master says that the cop may tell you to slow down but not put his foot on your brake. If he does, he’s ceased to be a cop. Bateson also says in what I hope the reader sees as the same context: asking someone if they would like to play chess is not the same thing as Pawn-to-King-Four. Dropping a bomb is an act of war. Declaring war is a logically distinct class of behavior.

What follows from this? don’t make treaties with groups that attack first and declare war second: they can’t be trusted. For the same reason, don’t make treaties (don’t even wage war), with groups that shoot the guy with the white flag: or who shoot the guy with the red cross. (Just annihilate them. note)

The teacher should explain to you how to go about solving the problem being rehearsed; the teacher must not solve the problem for you. The teacher must not do your homework or take your exam for you: or the teacher has ceased to be a teacher. The father gives the bride away. If the bride isn’t a virgin it shouldn’t be because of the father.

These are not Should and shouldn’t as in Prescriptive Morality. They are Should and shouldn’t in terms of logical category. The jar is not the wine. The law is not your behavior. The logic is of existence: mixing with function. (Gender and gender’s role are not the same thing.)

Women gave up the privileges they should have protected.
Susan Lapin

Executive Terrorism

I am stimulated to begin this module prior to doing my own homework — quoting the Bateson with proper references — because I have just been watching the first season of TV’s The Sopranos and fondly, with ever increasing admiration, recalling Puzo’s The Godfather. I knew in advance that the Sopranos was about a Mafia boss. I’d forgotten that the boss was middle management, not a don. (Having started by mistake with a year two episode) I was alarmed when Tony Soprano started pushing people around. No, no, no. A don must never raise his hand in violence. The don must be the most peaceful of men: or he doesn’t properly fulfill his executive position. The CEO may put the fear of god into a vice-president but to do it right he must do it in a sound proofed executive suite with no one hearing. The vice-president should designate the office manager to smack the clerk around. Ted Turner must never enter the clerk’s cubicle and so much as ask for a paper clip. To do so is not wrong morally so immediately as wrong hierarchically, logically: executively.

Puzo wrote mixed chronologies. The movies have re- and re-ordered the events. My memory is dominated by movie #1. One of the first things the movie shows is the Don’s eldest son, Sonny, pushing a photographer around: on the street! outside the compound! in public! with witnesses! An idiot. He must never be don. Michael in contrast is at the wedding in military uniform, escorting a date: a WASP! date, the daughter of a Protestant preacher! Now that’s executive material. The movie introduces us to the don in shadows, receiving visitors in his office. He receives one at a time. There are no witnesses to any of his conversations. No maid lurking about. No butler coming and going as he pleases. His consigliore knows to knock. The first thing we see him being is reasonable, just …

The first tale told about him is Michael telling Kay who Lucca Brazzi is: “a very scary man.” The famous singer shows up to entertain at the wedding at which he is also a guest. Michael tells Kay how the don freed the singer from an inconvenient contract with a well-known bandleader. The story introduces the famous line, “He made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.” Now notice: in the story it’s Lucca Brazzi who holds the gun on the bandleader; it’s the don who tells him that either his signature or his brains will be on the contract. The muscle muscles; the executive talks. This is not a law like that against incest. This is not a law like “gravity.” This is not law, but logic. These distinctions concern existential categories. The universe is a vastly more complex place, has infinitely more potential, with clear categories than without.

Flashbacks tell of the young Vito Corleone committing his “first” crime. Clemenza says he has a rug for him, that the owner of a house gave him permission to come in and take it. In this petty liar’s words, the taking isn’t theft: it’s a gift. But Vito is no fool. He sees what they’re doing. Yet it’s Clemenza who is clearly the criminal; Vito only marginally. Soon Clemenza sees which of them is the best brains, which the best muscle: all without words. We never see Vito give Clemenza an order! We never see Vito reprimand Clemenza. But we know that he could. We know that the muscle would be shitting in its boots from the brain’s words alone: his own survival (to the point of flourishing) depends on the muscle being subservient to the brains.

Desmond Morris goes into all of this quite completely in his Human Zoo.

We may remember Vito with Lucca Brazzi persuading the bandleader to release the up-and-coming singer with fear, with respect, with fondness. We accord even more fear and more respect to our memory of how the don handled the singer’s movie career. The producer wakes up to find the bloody head of his prize thoroughbred in bed with him. Vito’s consigliore had offered the producer compensation for accepting this particular casting assignment. The producer had refused. Now the singer will be in the movie. Please note: the terrorism by which the don rules is executive terrorism. At no point does the movie producer imagine that Vito Corleone has left Long Island to sneak into his stable or his bedroom in California. Note further: it is not necessary for the movie producer to imagine that the order for decapitating the million dollar horse or for putting body parts to bed with him came from Vito Corleone. The movie producer need not even imagine that Don Corleone knew about the decapitation and bedding. All the movie producer needs to know is that bad things happen when the Don is not pleased.

I revere Puzo’s portrait of his imaginary executive as the portrait progressively removes the executive from the crimes. We see Clemenza, Brazzi … and think … the Don!

Nixon was not happy: Vietnam rained bombs.

But of course Nixon was just the real owners’ capo. (An email to my son of yesterday made the very point that the US is a WASP Mafia.)


Just Annihilate Them:

I don’t mean by government fiat; I mean you, personally. And me too. We’ll join up spontaneously.

Actually I hope it’s clear that I don’t mean it literally at all.

Be assured though that I do mean that the biosphere would be a saner set of systems without cheating societies.


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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