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Hierarchical organizations, the natural not always easily distinguished from the artificial, has long been a major pk theme. My Judgment Day story for example features the triangle shape of civilized organizations from kleptocracy to monotheism: the hoi polloi form a broad base, God is at the apex.
Think of the earth / heaven / God verticality of Renaissance to Mannerist painting: hell is broad, earth is not quite as broad, a heaven of clouds is narrower, and God’s at the tippy top. I’ll find a better illustration (my youth was spent steeped in pyramid symbolism: today’s atheist internet seems never to have heard of it. Think Dante’s universe: devils at the broad bottom, many many devils; then the human damned, devils crawling up their ass;
… then humans; then angles, lounging in clouds … then Beatrice, heaven … and God.
Everyone is familiar with this, right? You should be if you’re not. The pattern may be used to model thought system after thought system: I spent a few minutes with a funny one yesterday: a Marx-derived hierarchy of capitalism!
Labor is at the bottom, very broad; power is at the top, quite narrow. (Way high up are the professions, experts who “lie to us”: and at the very top we find William Blake’s God: a god of lies.
(No, wait, I said that without looking at the image: at the very top is the US god: a bag of money!
OK: one more image and I can try to make my point:
There. We’ve got the AllSeeingEye at the top — we’re in Egyptian theology here: Masons and so forth would have got rid of the insufferable God of their youths without changing the picture by more than a millimeter!
But look: we’re got a two-sided “triangle”, apex up: and another: apex down!
Absorb that for a moment, continue when you’re ready. The apex at the top is the obverse interpretation of the symbol: but anything that can be shown one way can also be shown another: the shadow is sometimes not visible but never altogether lost. Come at it again, from a familiar angle: I’m writing in American, the US: we’re cultural children, inheritors of British culture: British imperialism, British cosmology … British values. God is at the top: But: we’re never really talking about God; we’re talking about the king. We’re talking divine right of kings. King James was steeped in this propaganda that made him semi-divine, which legitimized his power, his authority. The 17th Century lost it, then got it back again.
Once again: clear as clear: at the bottom we have the ordinary: then, like a child going through school’s magical twelve grades, we have the “better” then, “better and better”, we have the saints in the clouds, mixing with angels: then archangels … then, at the very top, nothing higher, we have God.
Wait a moment, think this through with me carefully: come at it again, from a side angle:
at the bottom you have the peasant, he makes the food, has no say in it. Then there are the managers, then the royals, eventually, the king, then God: so long as the barons and the king and the god don’t piss off too many peasants. Because, if they do, the king will learn very fast, and the Sheriff of Nottingham along with him, as the whole thing tumbles down, glonk, crash. the peasants are really above the king and above the God: hell is full of gods the peasants had already gotten rid of, vetoed, over-ruled.
It’s a triangle? Look better: it’s two triangles: there’s a strong one, an obvious one; then there’s the upside down one, the real one, the immortal one.
But never ever forget: these are human models. No matter what we think, say, draw, teach, reality is reality. The cigarettes are killing you or they’re not, it doesn’t matter what the doctor says: he said the opposite last year.
We can all pin gold stars on our forehead for being so smart. But if we’re really too stupid to live, too dishonest to draw anything truthfully, we’re on our way to hell in a hand basket no matter what hymns we’re singing. And when we’re dumped, hard, into extinctions’s heap, another damn stupid wasted experiment, it won’t matter what lovely Tintorettos we were looking at as we fooled ourselves.
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