What does it matter if …?

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &
Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Survival / Integrity /
@ K. 2004 06 10

Society pressures conformity. So long as the habit is trivial, it matters little to survival. Swift’s “Bigenders” in his Gulliver cracked their eggs at the big end. So what? The egg is still an egg. Some Egyptians wouldn’t eat pork: next thing you know, neither would any Jew. Fine: unless pork is all there is to eat: or unless pork has something one really needs.

Lamarck theorized that species evolved by striving: stretch for the leaves and the giraffes’ necks gradually grow longer. It’s an appealing theory, but evidence was hard to come by. Darwin theorized that species evolved by falling into advantages within their environment: one giraffe is born with his neck accidentally longer. He eats better. Gradually, longer-necked giraffes are finding more longer-necked giraffes to mate with. More of them becomes more of them. Stochasticism in modern math winnows the “accident” out of the process. Darwinism becomes less “godless” than the Victorians thought: Lamarck becomes less stupid: naïve purpose is what becomes stupid.

Darwin also theorized how trivial differences could evolve: differences only indirectly related to survival. If a good eye sees better than a bad, the good eye has the advantage. If a blue-eyes sees not one whit better than a green-eyes, the blue-eyes might still have the advantage if lots of girls go for guys with blue eyes. The first theory Darwin called Natural Selection; this latter he called Sexual Selection. If you grow up around females whose little lips are engulfed by their major lips, you’ll puke if you see females whose minor lips sprout emergent from their larger lips: and visa versa. Where’s my pussy flower? Functionally, the difference is no difference; but it helps the species to vary: drives races apart: serves survival through diversity. You never know how the environment will change, what will best adapt. The trivial can become essential in unpredictable ways. Maybe the blues eyes serve no functional advantage, but maybe the light (or dark) skin does: under certain circumstances. Where the circumstances become general, you’d better have the one (or the other) kind of skin (eyes, pussy …)

When I was a kid I loved to poke in my grandfather’s closet. At home the junk in the closet was all 1940s; at grandad’s it was all a generation or more older: stuff I’d never seen before. There was a Filipine kris, steel from point to handle, the dreadful blade all curvy. I interpreted the decorations in the hand guard as “notches,” believing the sword had had deadly experience. I asked for the kris and got it once I was a little older. There was also a miniature cane with a gold handle, the initials A.K. engraved: my initials on a cane for a midget! It was explained to me that that was my father’s childhood cane: as it had been my grandfather’s before him. Had my father been crippled? My grandfather was born with only one arm, but what did that have to do with his legs? No, no. Gentlemen used to carry canes. note It had nothing to do with being crippled. Therefore, gentlemen also provided their young gentlemen with young-gentlemen canes: and gloves, and shirt studs … Cool. I asked, and got. I also got the silver-headed cane Granddad carried while Dad had been carrying the boy-sized gold-headed one.

August Knatz II
August Knatz II
(pk is August Knatz IV)

When I saw some Fiji guys with biceps rings, and pierced ears, and filed teeth … and in the movies French dukes with long hair in curls .. I wanted all that too: until around fourteen I decided I didn’t want to wear or carry anything I didn’t have to. (In my sixties [and seventies] I’m back to being barefoot again, and bare-assed when possible.) Point is: the cane made no functional difference (unless one wanted to beat somebody); but the cane did make a social difference, a caste difference. The plantation owner dresses his family differently than he dresses his slaves. The Church dresses its cardinals differently from its bishops … The corporation’s young executives had better figure out which tailor to go to or they’ll be wearing blue collars, be wearing them wrong, and get beat up for their ignorance.

Figuring out what you can give up, what you should acquire, what you must give up, what you may not acquire … is tricky. There are guides for yesterday, but it’s already too late for yesterday’s decisions. Unfortunately there are no guides for today’s decisions: the results not knowable till tomorrow. The school teaches employability in yesterday’s market; never tomorrow’s. The dunce returns to class just as Bill Gates is dropping out. And my grandfather knew when to put that silly cane away and never touch it again: just as JFK’s widow knew when to start dressing in field boots, like a Cuban Communist!

Jesus knew when to get killed. Galileo knew when to build a telescope. The Vicar of Bray knew when to convert to Catholicism, and when to switch back again … Or did they? Some data is in; but never tomorrow’s!

So: we’re on our own. Is the society telling us to buy the new stock before it goes up? or before it collapses?

Anyway, the above took a very different direction from what I’d anticipated when I first opened a blank file. Let me get to that now: and worry about the juncture later.

What does it matter if you’re a Jew and the goyim doesn’t like your side-locks?

If you’re determined to be a Jew, it should matter nothing whatever: not if the guy is a Nazi, not if it’s 1932, not if it’s 1942, not if it’s 1952 … No more than if it was Babylon, 500 BC.

What’s the difference if you’re pure but the wolf calls you a whore?
What does it matter if you’re saved and the damned think they are?
What’s the difference if you’re innocent and kleptocrats judge you guilty?
Who should care what fools think?

It depends on how dependent you are on fools, doesn’t it?

It depends on how much of a fool you are. How brave … and so forth.

In all cases, the results are not yet known.

If mankind runs off the cliff tomorrow what does it matter what anybody said?

Note: Just as I’m about to pause for a break I remember a story from decades ago that may have put me on these rails today. An established artist witnesses his nephew mocking the conventions the uncle has mastered. (I’ll supply the artist’s name when I remember it: New York, Jewish.) The artist seems to hear it all with equanimity. “Doesn’t it upset you to hear that?” a bystander asks. And the master answers, “Who should care what that schvantz thinks?”

If you’re a scientist, an artist
… a genius
should you care if the “church” says you’re crazy, or immoral … dangerous?
If you’re a messenger,
sent from god,
(or truth, or evolution,
or the random) …
should you care if the “pope” says you’re a heretic?

Even if you’re just a priest of
Zeus, note
should you care if some priest calls you a pagan?

A number of people (or entities) might fit any of the above questions. The cannibals killing the missionary don’t say He’s right and we’re wrong: we’re killing him because we’re barbarians.

The following is for pk (almost) alone:

If you offered a universal cybernetic library
at cost
decades ago,
one that could have replaced both school and government,
and the public ignored it
should you care if the public is still too dim to see that it missed the boat?
Should you care if that same dim public can’t even understand that you did it?

Gregory Bateson Quotes

2004 06 10 PM Wow, that was quick. Billy Mac, another of us who doesn’t seem to care much for the shift key, answers my above questions pronto: Because, he says, if you don’t follow the rules, no one will fuck you. Your surname will die. And no one will know who you were.

That’s not a quote, but a summary. I do quote part:

modern mass culture makes it worse – bad hair? no one will fuck you —
shitty car? no one will fuck you — no money? no one will fuck you — we are made to feel
inadequate without the proper tools of illusion

… i guess the real thing bothering me is women — why can’t we recognize this
is stupid and quit playing the game and just live a simple life and eat, sleep and
fuck? –
because some asshole will come by and convince her she will be happier with

… the constant struggle for men to convince women they are worthy of their ass will be
the death of the species

Billy Mac knew that I knew that he had just been reading Leonard Shlain’s Sex, Time, and Power: How Women’s Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution. I am not at all sure how Shlain would accept the immediately preceding (IF it’s a paraphrase of his thesis on sexual evolution), but then he doesn’t know Billy. But I do: and I’m just beginning to read the Shlain myself. So far … sooo good.

I’ll keep a notebook as I read. (I normally do.) Some of it I’ll try to have spill over into a file called Sex / Power.)

2004 10 02: The Shlain is so good (and, no, billy’s email doesn’t quite equate) (and may not have been meant to). But I add this extension because I can’t believe that I wrote the above without referring to a favorite point about that word: “matter.” What a delicious ambiguity: matter means both “what’s important” and “what’s physical, has mass …”

I’ve been hyper-aware of the invisible puns since reading Alan Watts’ Does It Matter? (I think it was the later 1960s that I was reading a lot of Watts.) (I know I have mentioned that I always pun with the word and that the pun is Wattsian: but I don’t think I’d really spelled it out.)

I’m not spelling it out here either, but there is still another consideration I must add:

Life is a form of the motion of matter

Alexander Oparin

pk adds:

Matter is a form of the activity of energy;

energy is a form of the activity of nothing

the potential of nothing: nothing being the mother of everything.

Re: grandfather’s empty sleeve: My father told me that Grandpa had lost his arm by holding his elbow on the locomotive sill when he drove the train: a train going opposite ripped it off. (Uh, left arm, sure.) But I later heard he was born without a whole left arm. Dad was a misinformation comic.


Ah, I see why I gave that example: the 2004 Olympics are coming up in Greece. The other week Yahoo showed a Reuters article on some priests agitating to celebrate the Olympic pantheon during the games. Leaving Zeus or Athena out of the games is as bad as leaving them out of the movie Troy.


Gentlemen used to carry canes.:

That’s part of why Chaplin’s Tramp’s famous cane was such a brilliant prop: it was so inappropriate. Macroinformation: the sense is in the contradiction. And the Tramp hardly used his cane in gentlemanly ways: tripping people, poking people in the belly, even women.

I’m just watching a Chaplin marathon. It doesn’t have me in anything near the hysterics is used to inspire in me, but my eyes are still watering. Just saw him get “dressed” in The Rink: floppy shoes, splayed feet, buttons his vest all wrong, outer vest wrong in a different way … Then the hat and the cane top it all off: a social disaster, but he’s too out of it to notice.


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.
This entry was posted in integrity, pk Teaching, social survival, society. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to What does it matter if …?

  1. Pingback: an immense practical advantage: clarity in the midst of confusion « power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci

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