/ Journal /
1985 – 1997
|Id Intros||Scant Tech Style
most people spend litttle effort to seek what can be known (physics, chem, hist, semantics …); but are content to believe that they do know what can’t be known (right from wrong, God’s plan, accurate cosmology …)
We are a democracy of disinformation, demagogery, & delusion
for a discussion to have meaning, it’s prerequisite that an epistemology be held in common. for a hierarchically empowered decision to have dignity, the epistemology of the deciders must be of at least equal quality to the espistemology of the decided for. If the Cardinals won’t look through Galileo’s telescope, insisting that belief without evidence is superior to theory with evidence, it’s not Galileo who’s the biggest loser. If Einstein’s physics teacher wouldn’t think through relativity, but simply labored to subvert it, …
all my visions of JD, or of me in any contemporary dock, my graduate school experience, my submissions of my writing, my attempts to communicate with my contemporaries …
Our home; but god’s house
virgin sacrifice: offering their very best? or palming off lagniappe? the foolish cunning trying to con the even more foolish (they hope) god. Like the cargo cultists who threw all their wealth into the sea but made sure it landed on a reef where they could retrieve it once they got their prayer answered. How dumb do they think god is?
July 10, 1995: so many delicious dreams haven’t been recorded here since I met Catherine, started HP, PIm … But this morning’s made me think of my id files. Infantile, ie. dream-typical, shifting of point of view and of identity: I’m with Brian, my son, failing to communicate; I’m with Brian Carey, ditto: I’m me; I’m one Brian or the other … The more I press my love for Brian the more hostile my reception. Resistance becomes confrontation, threat … Angus Bruce & SoHo circle drifted in and out of it. Somebody’s a phyciatrist in a fancy Park Ave professional’s duplex; then that metamophoses into Schismatrix/Futurological Congress-subsidized, better-behave modules, not for a psychiatrist but a golf pro, someone who talks like he’s on the tour but no one ever heard of him. The back hall where you put the garbage becomes a utility trail on the golf course (where a real tour is going on), becomes a good place to mug or get mugged in Central Park … becomes a platform on the El where I see Brian and he does everything to duck me. Raggedly clear in the background drift awareness of the reason(s) BC has to hate me (propositioning Beverly & getting so drunk, mad to fuck that hunchback, leaving the guys to breakfast at Sheridan Square, driving what’s-her-face uptown, porking her twice, and then being so tired, so desperate to get home and crash before I crash the car, I forget Igolf & Roger, etc at the coffee counter) & the reasons BK gives …
But on to endingn of the dream: BC (metemorphing to me), meeting me on the El platform is with a group of fellow workers (professional architects, draughtsmen …; SoHo drunks; janitors; convicts …) has work as an excuse to evade me. Shift to time he and the group are in the boss’s office, waiting to get chewed out, fired, put in solitary, executed … Here come the fuzz, he’s got to escape. He remembers the broken hinge on the swing-out window they never get around to fixing. The others are placidly getting gassed, like Jews in Hitler’s Indian Reservations, when Brian elbows out the steel hinged top of the window wriggling like a snake, collapsing himself like Houdini mouse, and rolls out onto … the El platform. Whew. Alive! He walks down the steep stairs to the street. Uh oh. Here comes one of the boss’s angels. “This way, you. The boss wants to see you.” Oh, shit. Caught after all. They escort him to the enterprise. They pass the short cut the veteran workers use. They show him the entrance used by job appplicants. Fuck, how he hates this place. He starts a sodden plod up the narrow circling stairs, grafittied with condescending jokes, supposed to amuse the clods waiting in line as they slowly ascend, jammed in a crowd of the not too hopeful unemployed. “No,” they say, “use this one.” And they indicate the nearly invisible side stair. He’s too sodden to realize immediately: this is the staircase used by applicants for executive promotion! He’s still sodden with despair, not thinking well. He’s distracted by the graffiti on this even narrower, steeper stair. Condescending? Amusing? No, insulting! Ironically, he’s most piqued by a series of graffiti interstisted through space (and time) among the others: “If this staircase …” and further on, “You did climb …” Actually, he didn’t even need to get to the second phrase to be upset; the diction of the first was too distinctive. He recalled the joke drawn over a series of panels in an early Mad Comic: Dragged Net. 1950 or 1951. Jack Webb & sidekick takeoffs climbing the Matterhorn. In those days everyone knew the Burma Shave billboard-alternatives posted along country roads, typically revealing themselves one at a time around curves, so you couldn’t read ahead:
If this mountain
You did climb,
You are strong
And you are brave.
And now’s the time
For Burma Shave.
Either the boss (or his decorators) read that Mad issue; or, paranoia? solipsims?, the boss has a way inside his head. Could the signs read differently to different observers? Custom tailored to annoy the individual psyche?
He ascends with increasing difficulty. The applicants’ stair was difficult because of the waiting, the standing jammed in a crowed tight ascending curve. Because of the uncertainly, the despair, needing a job you didn’t want even in the unlikely case that you got it. This stair became, more and more as you rose, like the obstacle gauntlets at the old Steeplechase in Cony Island. Some of the steps, some series of them, were closed for repair. You had to detour around them, chimney rock climbing style, something Brian’s great at anyway. But sometimes you had to put your foot down. In a running stream of slippery rock. The next time it was quick sand.
Why is he being tortured like this? If he’s going to be chewed out, why can’t they just do it. If he’s going to be shot, why didn’t they do it on the street? The idea had slipped in, bit by piece, as he was directed to the executive applicant’s stair, that he was going to be promoted. Maybe his escaping the slaughter was some proof, some passing of some perverse test. But if they wanted to promote him, why didn’t they just bring him up the regular employees stair? Why torture him?
If this staircase
You did climb,
it had started.
You are strong …
Now followed. “Only the strong survive.” He realized that that was a motif already repeated among several graffiti, but not written as part of the pseudo-BurmaShave series.
(as a dumb ox.)
Was that part of the series? Everything was so sloppily drawn, it was hard to tell.
And you are brave.
“Into the valley of death …” Snatches of Tennyson were quoted on the wall. Crazy winding wall, Gaudi-like in its oddity, but without his fun, color, or whimsy. This wall was dark and running with moisture. “Rode the six hundred.” Brave? Tennyson’s obediant soldiers were dumb oxen all right: a stupid monarch’s stupid automata.
And now’s the time …
This was really getting to him. Red fury veiled his eyes. He spun round. He slipped. He knocked his knee. He bruised his ass, now annoyingly soaked as well, as he crashed amid the rocks of the stream at the side wall, as he fell dozens of hard gained steps. Or had he already decided what he now decided to do: keep going. Fly, leap, dance down the steps. That time, having sampled some Peyote near the peak of the Grand Teton, and Brian Carey and his climbing companion had run, laughed, leaping down the same face they had so cautiously climbed, descending in minutes what they had gained in hours if not days.
Some kind of an intelligence test. Well, if he had passed that other one, he was determined to fail, or rather to flout, this one.
It was there. More dream magic. The gun he’d thought about but never actually gotten near to buying was in his jacket, cold and black and hard against his bruised unfeeling hand.
Pell mell, he threw himself down the rest of the steps. He charged across the uptown lanes of the steet to the stair for the El. He vaulted the turnstile, the gun now in his hand. On the platform … it was just the elevated subway platform: a grim wall with defaced ads alternating with grimmy windows. But, yes, there it was anyway, the window he’d escaped from. He’d show them a promotion. He forced it open, awkward as the window swung out against his body. He rolled under it and somehow twisted up and in. He hadn’t a clue how he’d get to the boss’s office, an office no one had ever seen that he knew, but he was in it. The boss was there, recognizing him, though he’d never seen the boss, extending his hand. Congratulating him. Fuck that. The gun was in his hand and he was firing. Again and again.
The boss was on the ground, bleeding. Dead quick, like in a movie.
But there were others in the room. The guys who’d found him on the street. Only they were now wearing executive suits. They came at him. He still had the gun. Were there any bullets left? What did he care? He’d expected to be caught, to be executed. What did the executives matter?
But they came at him calmly, smiling. Actually, it was one executive. He had an envelope in his hand. It had been there all along. He was holding it out to Brian.
Brian was confused. “Here,” the executive said. Brian didn’t think the envelope was actually held any closer than it had been a moment before. It wasn’t being shoved at him. But the bearing of its holder was smiling, respectful, insistent.
Brian Carey took it. Opened it. Ran his eyes over it. He saw print. His mind comprehended nothing. “What’s this?” he asked. Dumb. Numb.
“It’s your appointment. Your promotion.” The executive gently took the letter back long enough to read it for him. “You’re now the president of the company.”
Whirling thoughts of No, I’ll kill all of you; I’ll kill everyone.
Huh? I’ll change a lot of things around here.
Oh, it was an extra perverse intelligence test. That letter was written before I pulled the trigger. Can my name have been on it all along?
And all the time I was BC, I was the boss …
But that’s when I woke up.
And now I think of: Piers Anthony’s great story about the torture planet, the same one that inspired Dark Beacon, reading it in Haverford the night before going to Malvern, PA’s Dr. Munin, DDS. The ruling senate of the planet tortures the guy for days. They’ve pulled out his nails, cut each digit off after, cut off his dick, his balls, gouged his eyes, pour boiling oil in his ears, pulled all his teeth, one at a time. He has no senses left, no limbs. Somehow they’ve made it possible for him to continue to hear them and communicate back, always offered the cup of poison when he’s had enough. Finally, he says What’s next. They, for the first time, don’t answer with some new horror. He reapeats the question. Finally, they say: That’s up to you. He doesn’t understand. Finally, he does. It’s the torture planet. All the rulers are missing fingers and ears and eyes. And he’s taken more torture than any of them. So he’s now their emperor.
And I think of Rambo’s inability to stick the knife into anybody of superior rank: the sherrif, the colonel, the general …
And all along, I’ve been thinking of The Golden Bough: the king who refused to accept the pigeon eggs and “take a nap.” Regicide, deicide … Suicide.
science isn’t a tool of thought; it’s a set of sets of thinking tools (and testing, verification, etc. tools).
reading: for months I try catching up on classics I’d never finished or even started.
Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility.
Start Ema, change my mind and jump ahead, determined once and for all to read
Middlemarch cover to cover. One of those novels god knows how many times I’d started …
(The first fifteen or so times I tried to read Barchester Towers I fell asleep in the middle of the second paragraph. By my mid twenties, I actually read it. Great novel. How could I not have caught his tone the first time around? Or at least the third?)
The further I go in Middlemarch, the more amazed I am to find my notes. So I had gotten this far before. Little to no memory of most of it. By the middle I’m convinced that though it’s not Tolstoy by a long shot, it is one of the greatest novels, much as I still hate so much of it. Persevere to the end: and there are still my notes! So I had read it through. It must have been the night before an exam when I was distracted.
What’s next? I go back a little: The Vicar of Wakefield.
ThenDickens’ David Copperfield finally. Almost to the end before I realize that I had gotten almost that far. No memory of most of it. Christ what damage class deadlines do to reading.
On to … change my mind again and go French: can’t find my copy of The Red and the Black. Bookstore doesn’t stock it, but orders it. So I start
The Chaterhouse of Parma. Get fairly far before I realize how much progress I’d once made,but little memory of it. In fact, I’d remembered Fabrizio at Waterloo as Julien Sorel at Waterloo. Half way in, the bookstore calls with Red & Black ready to be picked up. As wonderful as Parma is, wickedly undeceived, it’s really R&B I’d wanted to get to. What was Sorel’s crime and why wouldn’t he defend himself? Now that’s what relates to me and my dreams and plans. Again surprised at how far I’d gotten in there. At least as far as Julien meeting the young bishop practicing his benedictions in front of the mirror. Julien’s ambition I had remembered though without sympathy. A bishop?? His hypocrisy I’d glossed over. Hadn’t at all at 19 or 20 seen how aware Stendhal was.
Time for a little trash.
I see a movie: first in years. Braveheart. Not Lawrence, but damn, it’s fine. Great slo-mo of Wallace approaching the fort after they’ve executed his bride. Drives me crazy for days what the visual quote was in showing the meditative inward distance in his eyes: ah ha! Conan. James Earl Jones looking spiritual before he beheads Conan’s sapphire-eyed mother. Enjoyed Braveheart so much, I see Congo the nest night (and then slip in to see Braveheart again.) (Damn, if I don’t come in just before the same sequence: Wallace alone approaching the fort, the soldiers not guessing the broadsword he has under his tartan.
And the next night I buy and read Congo, the novel. Oh, he’ll lend it to me, Jim says. Too late. I mention Congo to Angel.
He lends me Crighton’s Sphere. Now what?
I pull Wittgenstein’s Lectures and Conversations from the shed. Gulp. Gone.
I rummage for Philosophical Investigations. Bookmark at p 60. But I’m not sure of the thread. So I recommence, now reading the beginning for maybe the sixth time. Pretty familiar now. (Prize: in Intro: he doesn’t wish to save anyone the trouble of thinking for themselves! Give them a direction, fine. Bravo.)
Since this note:
Firefly! Wow, and I’d just been talking about Piers Anthony! A little pedestrian in middle. A few flaws where the author assumes that the reader doesn’t see through any of his unfounded assumptions
(like they take it as a fact that the Firefly won’t feed on the second night) (or they think they they can fairly well guess about their job security with Mid, even when they start doing things on their own, missing assignments, fucking up …)
But denouement with Oenone and her stories and the Firefly … Go to the head of the class.
And then last night, July 27, 1995, more Golden Bough!
But it’s the Conversations I want to comment on: language games. good. got it. much of it, anyway. long part of my vocabulary and way of thinking. (Freud criticisms: good. Hurray! He finds Freud one of the few authors worth reading. Bravo encore. But not wise? Now I’ve got the read this German he does find wise.) Then: religion. Good, great. So unruffled. What’s the use of objecting to someone else’s language game anyway? But I kept wanting him to comment duplicates (antedated) of my own thoughts of these past years. And he didn’t. What function does the set of religious language game serve the players? Conformity with the kind of irrational standard civilization and society depend on! cf. my comments stitched here and there eg on why we tell kids about Santa Claus … Why we disapprove of not telling kids about Santa Claus. Why we disapprove of the older kid who undeceives the younger. He’s missing the point. There are no rewards in this society for anyone not prepared to “believe” an awful lot of unsupported, unsupportable crap. Lies. Manipulations. Unconscious. There’s no conspiracy; when we’re all in it (almost all), it’s not a conspiracy. It’s the truth. Social reality. Science? … reason? … sense? … all irrelevant and unwelcome.
Bud Powell’s relentless spasticity. Dry Soul. By god, just getting to be able to immitate about 1% of about 1% of it.
uses of principle:
99%: bullshitting people with
1%: adhering to
magicians use misdirection to fool the marks. and there are all sorts of magicians: like maybe Ike’s seeming simplicity. Christ, he still had a baby bald face when he was an old man! The super-whore in Schismatrix playing the old mama san with the synthesizer. Now: the king’s power: the king’s obvious power! Is the obvious true? Or is it a misdirection for the real power? The people! The people who want to seem like fools in the background, and will look the other way as insignificant numbers of them are sacrificed to the illusion, wanting, and having the power, but wanting and taking no responsibility for it.
Apropos: Phil Blackburn, the company lawyer in Disclosure, Sanders’ ex-friend, the one who passed on his wedding, says: “I just wanted to repeat to you, on a personal level, how sorry I am about all this. In the press of complex corporate problems like this, human values may get lost, despite the best of intentions. While we intend to be fair to everyone, sometimes we fail. And what is a corporation if not a human group, a group of human beings. We’re all people, underneath it all. As Alexander Pope once said, ‘We’re all just human.’ So recognizing your own graciousness through all this, I want to say to you …”
The corps are always misquoting and misattributing in this novel, but that’s a douzy. I don’t by any means know all Pope, not even all major Pope, but that was not only not penned by Pope, that was not uttered by Pope: that was not uttered by anyone in the 18th Cen. Nor by anyone in the 19th.
Restarting Scott’s Heart of Midlothian for the nth time, I finally get past the first chapter. Ah, the mob not wanting this execution, wanting very much that one. The mob at odds with the government, rebellion seething just under the surface, sometimes erupting, backing off when 20 or so are killed. But never tame. The stupid government never reading that Chinese general’s Art of War: know your enemy. Or you’ll win no more than half your battles.
But then visa versa. The public never knows the government.
Wake up redreaming the “Ouch,” Bonnie said sequence from DB. prose like: ‘his mouth ungluing, unfurling the petals from the bud, his tongue making the vulva bloom, loosening the channel, opening it for his …’ But it’s no good; I reread the passage and its untamperable.
Santa: another reason for teaching Santa Claus to our children is to establish in each civilized person a deep-seated doubt as to the reliability of his own experience and intelligence. Is the emperor really naked? He can’t be or I wouldn’t be the only one to see that he is. The group always turns on whoever is the only one to perceive, utter, or defend anything. The one unimpeachable epistemology that refutes them is that they’re alone! The five year old whispers that there’s not really any Santa to the four year old. The five year old who shouts it out loud is severely disciplined by the elders. Brought into line. The dispute isn’t that what he shouted was the truth; but that contradicting authoritative lies is rude. Social man.
reason, of itself, has no agenda, no program, no goal.
Too many things that people find manifest are demonstrable only by reference to a set of assumptions themselves not demonstrable.
all cultures are a solution, at least a partial solution, to some problem. Agriculture is a solution to hunger, competition is a solution to scarcity, civilization is a solution to competion, war is a solution to civilization … tyranny is a solution to chaos, democracy is a solution to tyranny … We are always valiant in guarding our rear, courageous with the vanguished, and blind to the dangers we’re blundering into.
Hamlet said ‘the rest is still behind’, picturing man as looking at the past as he backs blindly into the future; modern man pictures himself boldly striding into the future, face forward, hair swept back by the wind made by his progress. Shakespeare didn’t invent Hamlet’s orientation; he memorably expressed a conventional view. We’d be wise to downgrade our optimism and see how normally appropriate Hamlet’s view is.
magic is something we invented in a vain but typical attempt to gain unnatural advantages;
magic is something we maitain a belief in to stroke our deliriums.
Dr. Who. last week says goodbye to Romana (“You were the best Romana of them all.”). For the past couple of weeks they’d hung onto the kid who stowed away on the tardus. Good time to give up my newest addiction? I decide to watch this past Sat PM and see if the kid is still there, the Dr. Who is the same Tom Baker, if they reneg on Romana (the cute blond), introduce the next Romana, or follow this Romana & K-9 off on her tangent with the hairy harelip kings. Or spin off the Romana show and still have Dr. Who: binary fission. (I was glad to get rid of K-9.) No, it’s Dr. Who and the kid, in a skit that looked like a PBS production of a Shakespeare history play. (In other words, it doesn’t have to be dramatic; just pompous and slow moving.) Off the mark, Dr. Who is pawing and patting the kid. Now one of the interesting and effective things about Dr. Who and the two Romanas I’ve met, was the strict hands off policy. The cuter Romana, the less close Dr. Who gets to her. Now I also notice in retrospect the number of cute outfits Romana would wear that got much of their cuteness by being like cloths for a little boy: sailor suits with the HMS Pinafore square collars …
Illich manifest: woman doctor on tv, the virgin mother/venus, wise, caring, compassionate, nurturing, says (re: epidemics & nations) “The whole world is now our patient.”
negative entropy (not negentropy): entropy masked as negentropy: dismantling nature which is renewable and displacing it with artifacts, which are perishable but not fast enough.
the media cater to, massage, prevelent misunderstanding; not to understanding
SirJ seriously modifies my recent thinking about teaching children about Santa Claus. Relegating superstition to children is a certain sign that the belief is moribund. Girls dance around the May Pole only after the populace no longer really believe that the vegetation won’t renew for summer without the aid of that magic. Where they do, it’s the highest powered priests who do the dancing.
the church scholastics used to say that man was halfway between the animals and the angels. That invited further extremes in the spectrum: animals were midway between devil and man; angels were (a very short) midway between angel and God … Then Isaac Asimov has a nice piece on the world of human events, concerns, and perceptions being midway between cosmic micro…s and cosmic macro…s … Zipping over to the printer a couple of days back, it came to me … human society is midway between the primitive and civilization (the two seen as ideals, not coextensive with any examplable primitive anything and any particular society which labels itself or is labeled “civilization.”
It also occurs to me that the description is in a sense permanent. There are an infinite number of points between one end of a spectrum and another. There are further infinite numbers of points between any two of those original points, and another infinitude of points between any two points of these new infinities. In other words, the primitive ideal is half an infinity away at all times. And so is the civilized ideal.
I said something approximating this to bk over the phone before I had a chance to notice that I had thought it or to start to jot it down here. however complete my ids were for a few years, they’re extremely sketchy for the bulk of my fifty-odd years. (Of course I didn’t start getting flooded with ideas till I was in my late twenties.)
also from the other day, slips back to me: I don’t believe that teachers in a compulsory school system should be allowed to strap the kids in the exact same way that I don’t believe that prison guard should be allowed to bastinado the prisoners. But that’s extremely misleading because what I really don’t believe in is incarceration. The unfortunate impact is that teachers in a compulsory school system can’t be real teachers. All subjects are disciplines. If you are not empowered to exact discipline than you aren’t a teacher. Imagine saying “teach my son boxing, but don’t anyone hit him.” If he can’t be hit then he can’t learn boxing. Imagine saying to the army “train these recruits but don’t teach them any discipline.” Where we really mean what we say, we grant authority with responsibility. You can’t grant the one without the other.
To school teachers we really grant neither authority nor responsibility. (And of course most school teachers aren’t competent to be teachers of anything and shouldn’t be granted either responsibility or authority. But all we really want is an indocrinator/baby-sitter.)
In The Free Learning Exchange I stressed that any student should be able to fire any teacher and any teacher should be able to fire any student. The firing having only to do with their immediate relationship. If a parent hires the teacher, and the parent is responsible for the student, meaning the student is a child, not a real citizen, then the student cannot fire the teacher: he must ask his parents to do it for him.
At Everglades Holiday Park I was supposedly responsible for the store and for keeping the guard on his toes and moving around the grounds. I was responsible for this without being able to leave the store, of course. When that one guard started hanging around the store drinking coffee and bullshitting me all night, I had no power to control him. I’d say, go about your rounds: he’d pour himself another cup and start to tell me more bullshit. He knew I had no authority. Finally, Mitch had to be involved. The only real power liked to go out fishing or stay home. It’s a miracle his business worked at all, let alone made him thousands of dollars a day. Over the long haul, it can’t.
we blind ourselves to our own experience, in concert, out of loyalty to the principles which sustain our addictions. In this case, it wouldn’t matter which way I spelled principals. Yes, they got us here. And being here will destroy us. (I once made a related point to bk who instantly saw the double-edge of here.
Chaffreneek. It’s become my habit in the last few years to comment on unusual names when I see them on the name plate of a cashier or clerk in the supermarket or gas/convenience store. Inevitably, they are female and black. Yesterday in Riviera Beach, Blue Heron Blvd, Chaffreneek was standing next to Tonia. Tonia was my cashier and I asked her how she pronounced it, offering two choices: /o/ or /a/. She said “either way: people usually call me Tony. I said, “Then I’ll say it T/o/nia, because that’s a name I’ve never heard. And you’ve got a really great name too, Chaffreneek.” This very black and ugly girl blushed to her hair line and writhed her whole body into a smile. A chorus came from the dozen (all black) employees: “he pronounced it right!” And I left amid their astonishment. Merry Christmas.
Conversation with bk last night: my surprise and joy (and hope?) at seeing my list of politically undeceived authors grow from
one Le Carré Little Drummer Girl
to two Puzo The 4th K
to three Asimov more than one brief statement about government’s security in the seemingly permanent state that very few perceive it’s real nature. (& of course, they will never be listened to let alone recognized as right.)
to four Sterling Islands in the Net, followed by Heavy Weather, etc
to five Wilson, … Illuminatus, etc.
I am able to see what I see with the clarity that I do thanks to my decades long perusal of The Golden Bough. And it’s time I tried to distill my own view in expository prose, especially since my fiction has thus far failed to communicate my general intentions except in part and only to isolated individuals. My fiction never had any momentum, which depends on a connected readership.
The enduring essence of government boils down to a short list:
To collect and (almost as important: to spend) taxes.
To facilitate the accumulation of wealth by its friends
And to relegate others to the service of those friends and their purposes
To 1) channel and 2) redistribute wealth
The last two characteristics government shares with all* life forms. (*Any rule must be perpetually checked and rechecked for validity. Here’s a soft spot I’m aware of as I write it.) But life forms, as Korzybski says, come in two varieties: normal and pathological. Government is pathological in that it is fueled by, relies totally on, addictions to illusions: Illusions of:
Government derives its power by embodying what I see as the key pathology of the single species, homo sapiens sapiens, some particular tribe, “race,” or culture of which particular governments consciously promote: the pursuit of unnatural advantage.
(Temporary) species (temporarily) evolve in (temporarily) suitable environments. These environments are part of larger natural cycles. Hss developed species wide a sort of intelligence capable of seeing parts of those cycles but rarely being able to see strings of parts of those cycles. To get concrete: man needs food. He learns to hunt. He learns to over-hunt. Man learns agriculture. He learns to over-cultivate. He learns to multiply to greater numbers: he learns to over-multiply. To pathological numbers. Last years hunt enabled the survival of all of these babies. This year’s hunt is poor. This years crop can’t support the even more babies of this year. He needs an advantage. His primitive intelligence invents homeopathic magic. Thanks to natural cycles he didn’t have the patience or scope to perceive, his magic seems to work. He becomes addicted to the seeming advantage his seeming magic has seemingly given him.
Then the magic evolves. Individuals are sometimes smart and honest enough to notice that their magic didn’t work in a series of applications. But he doesn’t stop believing in magic; he stops believing in his magic. So the medicine man is born. Then the king. I don’t make the sun rise or the rain rain or the day lengthen or the vegetation to renew or the herds to remigrate, but the king does. Then the king doesn’t, but the priest does. Then the priest doesn’t, but the big animal or big magician in the clouds does.
History is the record of man sloughing off one magician to replace it with one more abstract. More remote but more powerful than the previous. This is the evolution of magic, politics, and religion.
The environment in which we evolved (tautologically) provided us with resources and means to survive. That wasn’t good enough for our overpopulation or our infantile cowardice in fearing death. It wasn’t good enough that we already live far longer than any other mammal: our typical number of heartbeats per life is something like times-ten than of other mammals. We wanted immortality. And infinite retirement: work a little, then be served forever. The god who we had promise such to us in another life was an improvement over previous gods, but that god still wasn’t giving us enough advantage. We wanted immortality and all worldly goods. So we invented modern religion: the modern state: The United States.
We pity this or that tribe with their shamans and rain dance; but we gad after Experts who we believe can make the economy rain on us at the push of a button.
Our government is no more real and no more magical than Jehovah. It seems real and powerful partly for the same reason that the primitive is slow to lose his belief in his own magic: after all, it does rain. We do goose the economy and sometimes it does seem good. Then we gorge till we have to goose it some more. But we cannot prove, we assume, a causal relationship.
Our government also seems real and powerful because we spend so much time feeding it, sacrificing (sacrificing especially others) to it. If you stood in Chartres and saw thousands of candles burning, how could you not believe in the Virgin? Especially when you know how your mother mortgaged the farm to be able to light so many of them? It has to be true: you have nothing left if it isn’t.
The United States has no more extensional reality than Odin, an houri, or Christ. (Jesus is another matter.) A lot of government buildings and a lot of bureaucrats running in and out of them is no more proof of the reality of our government than is a lot of priests scurrying about a lot of cathedrals proof of the existence of Christ. The Constitution is as mythical a document as the Bible. We certainly can’t establish its reality by correspondence of its parts to scientifically investigatable facts.
Well, this could be briefer, but it’s brief enough for a fast first jot.
Hook to extensions (condensation is also recommended): we’re on a junkie high, but the high no longer seems high. So we steal more to shoot up more. We think days are passing, but the morning of our real hangover is still to come.
Mark Chaney at work in Sebring: I drive east on 66C. The road Ys. Sign: twisted to midway: WRONG WAY!
Barabas: civilization will embrace any criminal in preference to merely accepting a reformer.
Which does more harm?
Santa Claus, encore: a new slant adds itself upon my waking this AM: society depends on synchronized perception: perceptions not directly accountable by the sense or senses, but by looking around at your fellow citizens and slaves, to see what they’re seeing. Or pretending to see.
Standard line in cop shows and other pop fictions: “Can you prove that?” As thought the speaker and his ilk had proved any of their contentions. Standard lawyer talk: yeah, but could you get a jury to see it that way? Not unless you somehow substitute yourself for what they perceive to be their bread and butter, their pension entitlement, etc.
many theological nicities translate into the question: Is the essence of the universe carnivore or herbivore? God, the ideal, is neither carnivore nor herbivore in our view, but is rather plant: able to take and convert energy as it comes directly from the sun. (I doubt that any of these categories are adequate metaphors for the universe we live in. They’re not likely suitable essences for any other universe either.) In other views, he is the sunlight, indeed in others, he is the essence of all light. But he still looks like a big carnivore.
common to carnivores and herbivores and common to plenty of plants too is the practice and perfection of deception: the flight of the owl is as masked as the path of the mouse is concealed. The flower entices the male wasp to fuck it, anticipating the female wasps release of pheremones by a day or so. The wasp’s first couple of spasmings fertilize the calm flower, not the frantic wasp.
C’m’ere little girl. Don’t worry … I won’t hur’tcher none.
The false promises of the flower reach dizzying complexity by the time it develops through the slight of hand, face, and mind of HSS sapiens. A study of the lies and false assurances given sheep as they’re hearded to the abbatoir would be a wonder to behold.
But crude, crude when compared to the skillful woing of the greatest and most shameless of all carnivores: government: infinitely hungry for taxes. By turns irritable with the balkiness of the just fleeced tax payers and silkily reassuring of those about to be fleeced.
Don’ ch’ew worry there, lil’ internet. We don’t mean no harm; we just want to protect our little uns from smut. Tha’s all.
[And the plans of those who don’t like it … and who plan to replace their own tax juggernaut with a “better” … (“better”? What could that possibly mean?) are a little like pubescent Nell eloping with Hank to get away from her father, Hiram. And twenty-five year old Jill going out the honkey juke to pick up somebody better’n Luther. Uh oh, there’s Hiram: if he spots me, what’ll I tell him about his money this time?
Don’t let those guys be your tax collector; let me be your tax collector. And no consideration for those who want no tax collectior at all.]
a study on predation for food as compared to predation for procreation likewise compared to predation for pleasure would well suit comparison with a study on deception for predation as compared to deception for protection likewise compared to deception for pleasure. a study on predation, deception, nourishment, pleasure, procreation … would be neat if comparisons ran throughout it inter gender intra species.
In the mid 60’s while I was in grad school, Alison make friends with Lev and Hil & I would occasionally go with Ali to Lev’s hangout, The Old Reliable, 3rd St in the E Village. Lev had gotten the owner to give him infinite tab credit against his getting paid for the accident he was in on the West Side Highway. So, we met the drunks, fags, artists, communists, black power, etc & groupies who hung out there. Lev was always picking up chicks there and I found it curious and enlightening that any I also got to know at all were sexually repressed in the extreme. I don’t think the black power guys were in fact getting nearly as much beach girl pussy as it at first appeared. (Of course it’s also possible that they were sexually repressed only with males who looked like beach boys and got it on just fine with alcoholic communist Jews and table banging Blacks & Puerto Ricans, etc.) Lev introduces me to Tamara, she asks me a favor, I agree … Schmuck! She asks if I’d monitor the number of yellows she takes. You see, she’s this heroic, valiant junkie who’s going to cure herself in a few days and just needs a little help. What was wrong with Lev? No, they suckered me. Yes, ok, she can stay with me for those few days. What?!?!? She was gorgeous. If you could stand how dirty she looked. And she was probably even dirtier than she looked. Up close, you couldn’t miss the crust hanging around her lips, her dirty nose … I put her in the tub and clean her up a little. I was fine till the seventh or eighth hour sleeping with her on my narrow bed. Half asleep, I slip it into her from the rear. It was like unzipping your fly and sticking it out the window into the cool breeze. Her cuny was bigger than the Luray Caverns. (I honestly didn’t know till later that she was a whore.) How the hell did I ever come? I didn’t try it again though. Half way through the second day she asks if I’d come with her while she got a few things she needed. Sure. Avenue C and something. Filthiest, most cluttered dump I’ve ever been in. And that’s saying something. This includes Peter, Bob, Phil … She rustles around, falling over herself. Goes into the bathroom. In there a long time. I should just leave. I have work to do. I’m only about two and a half years behind in my reading. I really ought to read at least the first novel or poem on the reading list by exam time. At first in grad school, I was better than I’d been in college. But by this time I was worse, much worse. She comes out, goes back in, really falling over things by now. This time, she leaves the door open a crack. Deliberately? I see her shooting up in this filthy sink with a filthy baby pacifier-needle. Still I don’t leave. But I do give her a really dirty look as she comes out. Oh, no. I’ve got it all wrong. That wasn’t horse; it was yellows: she’d melted them or they wouldn’t have done her any good as an H substitute. Now, honest, the rest she’ll take orally. I just have to keep the bottle and only give her so many a day-no matter how she begs or threatens.
Now I remember the step I’m leaving out. I’m remembering this in order to get to Marianthe. Maybe the Marianthe scene came earlier. Maybe it came exactly next. She asks if we can go somewhere else and pick up something else. Sure. I have no free will when a beautiful girl asks if she can sleep with me for the next several days. The place we went was Marianthe’s. Half of the what-have-you’s from the Old Reliable were there. All crashing together, all visiting days on end, no telling. A pair of really sick looking, filthy mulatto twins are there. Turns out they’re Tamara’s kids. She’s gotten Marianthe to agree to look after them while she got unhooked. (Tamara’s padre was mayor of Portland. Tamara, beautiful raven black tresses hanging to her waist. But it turned out in the bath tub she was a natural blond. I bet the Mayor was real proud of his grandkids. Transparent as a good motivation for Tamara.) But Marianthe is stone zonk unconscious on the floor. No pulse, no breathing, no nothing. Everybody is slapping the shit out of her and talking to each other. Marianthe, wake up. Marianthe, smack, smack, You’re gonna die, honey, if you don’t wake up now. Marianthe, smack, what did you take? What did Marianthe take? Did anybody see what Marianthe took? I didn’t see nothing. All she had was Tamara’s yellows.
That’s it. This was before she’d come home with me, before she’d entrusted the yellows to my keeping and dispensation.
Marianthe, smack, smack, shake, shake-not easy, cause Marianthe was at this point a cross between a quarter ton stone and a sixth ton pork sausage.
Six, Marianthe finally croaks. Neat. Tamara trusts Marianthe with her kids and her yellows, and her best friend promptly overdoses herself.
Tamara gets the crowd to find the yellows and asks me on my honor as a gentleman to dispense them to her at the prescribed rate and to withhold them from her otherwise at all costs.
Oh, yes: how did I meet this piece of junky trash in the first place?
Well, as said above, Alison palled around with Lev. Lev introduced me to Tamara, as “a talented writer sure to get a Guggenheim Fellowship as soon as she cleans up a couple of details in her act.”
Besides, it had been a couple of years since I’d been surrounded by junkies. But this was the first bunch I’d ever seen who weren’t musicians and were utterly without talent. Though I was yet completely to perceive that. Lev was so smart, so funny; he couldn’t possibly be a stupid a dupe as the capitalists he mocked and exposed all this time. Or would he tell any lie to get close to a little quim?
Anyway, the hell with the rest of that story. (Except to recall actually seeing an example of Tamara’s writing a day or two later. Oh, my god …) The point was to introduce Marianthe unconscious on the floor with all her substance abusive friends oh so concerned for her health and well being.
Thirty years later, Monday morning, driving to Sarasota to pick up my UMAX scanner, it comes to me: today’s tv trash is playing itself before my eyes in self-satirical pastiche. Hospital shows, doctor shows, cops, ambulances, and hospital shows. Even Bay Watch: what are the bikini blondes watching for along the bay? people to turn into patients, people suddenly to care desperately about their survival for, especially where the males give mouth to mouth to the females and the females give mouth to mouth to the males. These are patients. We are saving them. We don’t need their permission to lie on top of them with our mouths on theirs. If she’s unconscious, and we’re saving her, we can put the camera right in her snatch without apology.
Suddenly, I remember Marianthe and made a connection I’d never made before! And now, before I get to say what it is, another connection plugs straight in as a help to saying it:
Also mid sixties, just south of Cooper Square on Astor Place, I run into Michael Peter Kahn. Hey, how ya doin. Something about movies: Oh, yes, I said, “Michael, I’ve decided: you’re wrong.” “Huh?” But he sees the smile on my face so he plays it straight. “You said,” I say, “that Forbidden Games is the greatest movie ever made. You’re wrong: 81/2 is the greatest movie ever made.” “Oh,” he agreed, “well, that’s all of our autobiography.” (Actually, I could date this: less than a year after 81/2 came out. I got out of the army and moved to E 4 St.)
It was only recently that I’d seen Forbidden Games. Little girl’s parents and dog killed by Nazi planes in the traffic jam fleeing Paris. Little girl wanders the woods carrying her dead and stiffening dog. Meets little farm boy. They bury the dog. Other things die. They bury them. Then they start killing things and burying them. “Well, you can’t bury them if you don’t kill them first.”
That’s it! I don’t know that it’s the ultimate perversion, but it sure is well along the track. We need traffic victims and war victims and stupid beach practice victims so that we can all dramatize the hell out of the roles we play only in our self-realizing fantasies: we value life-we actually do embody the supposed morality of our supposed religions, see.
no redress/real crime
discussing the evolutionary utility of dishonesty, its necessity in a social species, with C the other am. should record sometime.
the govt tells us what terrif restraint it imposes on itseelf for our dear sakes (actually it says we impose on it, har har); I’d like to see the public at large try a little restraint in its behavior.
By what right do ex supporters of Mussoulini kick his head arond the streets? His enemies, yes. By what right do his supporters change their minds without penalty? The public is the one entity never responsible for anything, especially not its own actions (and inactions).
banks make money by taking advantage of the time delay beween receipt and payment as well as by taking advantage of varying interest rates, especially what you pay compared to what you charge. Similarly, governments govern by the discrepency between territory as the government perceives it, and the map of that territory held in mind by the majority ofcitizens. And they can rest easy despite the existence of some few who have better map than the other citizens (and, easily enough, a map better than that held by the government as well): the citizens at large will heed them no more than they’ll comprehend them.
homeostasis (cultural): favorite weapon: systematic misunderstanding
with prejudice a sub-set so large as to be practically a synonym
I’ve long associated jazz with protestantism: a minority of dissenters who’ve got it right: being hip being fully congruent with being saved. Etc. Silently, in my mind, I’ve gone on and on with this. Over several decades. Then this AM, it hits me: what was so appealing to me aged 15 or so about Lester, Miles, Duke … what filled a gap left empty by my supposed “white” supposed “male” models from Ike & Nixon to the banker, to Yogi & Joltin’ Joe: pure male display, unapologetic, unalloyed display, joyously competitive, athletic, defiant, almost rogue … “civilized” maleness displays by committee. The Mick hit homers, but that’s what he was told to do. The musicians were inventing their own game. Or so it seemed to me.
I recall a few years ago saying to bk: what Miles was up to: Miles is the quintessence of saying “My dick is bigger than yours.” I don’t mean Miles’ dick really is bigger: who knows when we’re clothed? (and the actual penis is only a small part of it) (it’s all symbol systems, man. Jack Johnson. Again: spades); I mean Miles is leading us, showing us how to say, how to act: “My dick is bigger than yours.”
Bankers and slum lords have the US Army to be their dick for them.
Secondly, in brief successon it occurs to me: but of course individualism is a myth, an illusion. Bird didn’t play a capella. A group of fellows, who understand what you’re up to, and who get their turn, even if minor, and supporting him, giving him a rhythmic and harmonic stage to solo on.
govt: the tertiary stage of superstition
wriggling from the glare of intelligence … (honesty, etc)
the cankering of contempt