Law & Order Scrapbook

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Society / Social Order / Civilization / Law /

2008 05 10 Whenever you hear those two words, “law” and “order,” said as one, law-and-order, watch out. Invariably it means only one thing: someone is about to palm their politics onto the world as though it were God-given. They mean that their law must now be your law, and everybody’s law; their order your order, the order of the universe.

It’s the political version of what corporations do, trying to get the public to mistake “Coke” for cola, “Kleenex” for tissue … some party agenda for cosmic physics.

I try to avoid doing that myself. But what if I did? What if I tried to make my five favorite Shakespeare plays your five favorite anybody’s plays. Wilt Chamberlin needed a higher doorway lintel than other people: hell, he was seven foot something when the rest of us averaged five foot eight. (Shaq is seven foot something, but the rest of us are now five eleven or so on average; so, Wilt was Much taller than Shaq.) Anyway, Wilt didn’t petition Congress to order All doorways to be seven foot five: he made His doorway 7′ 5″, and let the rest of us follow our averages.

2002 09 24
Mission: to distinguish human-determined order from natural order

I’ve dealt with the theme of Law & Order at these several years now but today I see that I need a new module to emphasize one thing:

The “order” part of the phrase is misleading in the extreme and deliberately so. It seems to mean “natural order” or “God‘s order.” What it actually means is our order: order peculiar to this particular individual kleptocracy: order perceived by a partnership of special interests to be beneficial to those very interests.

Note: it isn’t scientists, it isn’t theologians, it isn’t cosmologists, it isn’t naturalists who determine the nature and character of the order; it’s lawyers: it’s legislators: it’s the mouth-piece for the partnership mentioned just above: for convenience (and not too inaccurately): the “owners.”

I would like to see a government demonstrate that it represents God: or god: or truth: or goodness … I would like to see a government demonstrate that it has ideas better in any way than yours or mine as to what is in any group other than their own group’s “best interests.” note I would like to see a government demonstrate that it represents anything other than it’s own special interests.

The US government has been evolutionarily clever in saying that it represents the People, where the People are no more objectively present or identifiable than is God in theist balderdash. Funny thing is: the (Statist) Communists quickly learned to say the same thing. What was funnier than life around 1969, 1970 when everyone gathered was ready to kill everyone else gathered, all in the name of the People. The cops represented the People, the Weathermen represented the People, Mayor Daly represented the People, Ronald Reagan represented the People, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon represented the People, the SNICs and the SNACKs all represented the People.

OK. Now, one other consideration, to be discussed further, both calmly and rationally, once I can return here in the right mood: What have People ever had to do with Order? Other than to exhibit it, to manifest it, will they or nil they, like anything else in existence?

Attorneys always had to get in the last word; it was why people hated them so much.
Grift Sense

Law & Order was the first law piece at

See also God & Country: an early contribution to my theme of Magic: and emphasizing order.


Deciding What’s Beneficial: The greatest good for the greatest number: You want to see hubris? Consider the foregoing phrase. What makes the people who are busy destroying the earth imagine that they could distil from among themselves a committee that could determine what’s good let alone sort among competing quantities and qualities of “good”? Are we competent to nominate the “best man”? We can’t even say what the best movie note is without incendiary dissent.

(I chose my best man at my wedding. I had every right to. No one supposed that I was making a universal generalization.) (The gall of Life magazine to have told us who “the best and the brightest” of anything was. How would they know?)

What could be more pathetic than a bunch of moralists, or a bunch of true-believers, or a bunch of philosophers … sitting down to agree with themselves that they know what’s best of all. note

You know, I’m awfully sick of the religion I was raised in. But I’ll give simple-minded Protestant Christianity one quality: at least it doesn’t pretend that man is the measure of anything … but evil.

Note further: The above reminds me of a problem I’ve always had with mathematics: who’s to say that the axioms are true? I now know that honest mathematicians like Bertrand Russell are aware of this problem and address it. I now know that Kurt Godel gave us a handy handle by which to get hold of the problems (a handle I saw only as of last week to be intimately related to my own Macroinformation). The mathematicians can pronounce on things only within the scope of their tautology: and then, their pronouncements are worth no more than the penetration and consistency of that tautology. In other words: the proof is only as true as the proof is true. If the proof is false, then the proof isn’t true.

Profound, right?

So: if society’s “owners” were making up everything’s mind for it in terms of a rigorously tested tautology, I’d think, Fine, it’s no more harmful than math. But math is strictly mental. It has no business in the extensional world of oceans and forests and bridges and cities (unless it’s “there” the way “god” is “there.”) Whereas the decisions made by owners for governments, have extensional consequences. (Blowing up a nuke has extensional consequences: it alters the landscape: giving methadone to junkies, immigration laws, licensing doctors but not witches, inviting this scientist to the White House while burning the books of that scientist … has extensional as well as mental consequences. Killing most of the life in Dresden or Hiroshima had extensional as well as mental consequences.)

If I punch you in the nose, I can take responsibility for my action: maybe. If I punch you in the nose so that you fall down and your fall somehow traumatizes the bacteria in your stomach so that somehow all bacteria the world over go into shock so that photosynthesis ceases and all living things begin to die, I cannot take responsibility. The consequences take a quantum jump in scope. Any of our actions could for all we know unzip the universe. We don’t waste our time worrying because it’s never happened. But then we’ve never before done things of the type that we now do regularly: that governments now do regularly. What will be the consequences of burning up the world’s fossil fuels? I don’t know and you don’t either. No “expert” does any more than does any amateur. The consequences may be nothing worse than that we have no more fossil fuels. So what? Who ever promised them to us? (Other than governments (and corporations)?) Ah, but what if it somehow unzips the universe? Can we hold the governments responsible? After we’re all dead? How?


Best Movie: I invite you to notice an important difference between electing a best movie and electing a best novel. Hollywood releases a limited number of movies per year. I don’t know the actual numbers but I do know that the numbers are not great: say no more than one hundred. It is possible to see one hundred movies in a year and also to have some sense of what you’ve seen. The last time I looked, India releases more like five hundred movies in a year. It is not possible to see and consider five hundred movies in a year. There is enough viewing time; there is not enough digestion time. Even with a hundred movies, there would be no time left over for a life of your own. So I say, it’s possible: but add: it’s crazy. Nevertheless: a movie brings with it a finite minimum viewing time: one hundred twenty minutes, one hundred forty minutes … You, I, and the Village Idiot all see the same movie in the same number of minutes: for the minimum viewing.

The last I looked something like five thousand novels were published in the United States each year. It is not possible for anyone to read five thousand novels in a year: unless you read like the publishers slush readers: flipping pages, glancing at every other thousandth word, while snapping gun and talking about the rock concert on the telephone. I have read a single novel in a single day: more than once. But I’ve also taken several years to read a single novel: and I don’t mean by neglecting it for most of that time. There is no such thing as a minimum time for reading a novel. At Columbia Lionel Trilling would assign The Iliad on Monday and The Bible on Wednesday and please have the first half of Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain finished by Friday. (Even if one could absorb the data in that time, how much of the information could one get? How much of the macroinformation?) But we were supposed to already know the Iliad and Bible. We were supposed to be reviewing, skimming. It was the Mann we were supposed to be gulping at fifty pages an hour. (Did you ever watch an ordinary citizen try to read something? They can’t read just the waffle section of the IHOP menu in an hour. It’s a blessing they can see the STOP sign in less than an hour.)

Anyway, notice this difference further between movies and novels. (You understand that by “movie” I mean an artifact manufactured and packaged by a studio, not a few seconds of baby’s first steps on video.) The movie is a big deal to put together. You don’t need a financier, you need a financial institution: perhaps several financial institutions. Publishing a novel can cost a lot. Publishing five thousand novels might cost something comparable to publishing one hundred movies: though it doesn’t have to: not by any means. (And visa versa.) But the number of movies financed, made, released, and distributed does not represent the number of movies conceived, sketched into a scenario, and hawked. And the number of movies dreamed is a number of no consequence compared to the number of novels written. An individual writes the novel. An individual does not publish the novel. note Etc.

What I want the reader to see is this: the film industry getting together to vote on the “best” movie is many orders of absurdity less absurd than publishers getting together to elect a best novel. And notice this most of all: the tendency is to say “the best novel written:   but even the publishing industry has no competence to know what was written; only to know what they chose to publish, and one or two manuscripts they had divided thoughts about that they didn’t publish. Not only did thousands upon thousands of manuscripts pass through their hands without more than a wisp of the books ideas being received by the publishing company, but the best novels of all may never even have been submitted! Look at Kafka. He did not want his novels published. They were published in direct defiance of his will.

(Then why did he write them? Ask him.)

Note further: I learned something extremely odd in graduate school. There has been one book both written and published by one individual: but it wasn’t a novel. Dard Hunter wrote his history of paper making in the United States, Dard Hunter hand-made the paper he published his book on. Dard Hunter designed and hand-crafted the type the book was printed from. Hunter built the press, operated it … Dard Hunter single-handedly wrote and published a book that was entirely his. Of course the information came from the world, the fiber came from plants, the style of the type came from the Renaissance, the idea of printing likewise …

When I taught at Colby, the special collections section of the college library had a copy. I’d already handled one in one of the special collections sections of the New York Public. The Berg? One of those. Amazing. One of the front pages of this folio-sized book bore no printing — you know how a book may have one or a series of blank pages up front? — but it did bear an image: just beautiful. Dard Hunter’s self-portrait in the paper’s watermark: looking very much like the ethereal Percy B. Shelley at his most Romantic.

Oh: did I mention? The papers of no two pages of the book were the same. Did I say that each page of text imitated the paper made by the publishing house being historied on that page.

Talk about individualists!

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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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