Originally posted at Prayforcalamity.com
“Protect your spirit, for we are in the place where spirits get eaten.”
– John Trudell
Spring is moving in quickly, more quickly than I might necessarily want. My arms are worn enough to keep me from complaining about the break from hauling and splitting firewood, and sleeping the night through instead of waking up at three a.m. to stoke the embers and add more fuel to the stove is a welcome respite. I am quite concerned however, that the season for collecting maple sap may be cut abruptly short. For the best syrup season, night time temperatures need to drop below freezing, and day time temperatures need to rise to just shy of forty degrees Fahrenheit. A week ago, nights were just above zero and days didn’t creep past twenty. This week, nighttime lows hover in the high thirties and the days are approaching sixty. Of course, this could be a fluke, and I don’t want to scream “climate change” with every strange localized weather event, but the songbirds seem to be dropping anchor for the season, and I am recording the details of this winter’s drastic waning in the ledger book of such things in my mind.
The arrival of spring brings for me a surge of energy as I feel life return to the above ground world from the root-balls and burrows where it slumbered during the frigid and dark portion of the year. Spring also brings with it a workload beyond what I ever have time for, so the energy I feel running through my limbs as the sun shines down on my jacketless body is quite a gift. I mention such things because as the days lengthen and grow warmer, I have commitments in the garden and about the homestead that keep me from writing, so this will likely be my last piece for a good while. Such a hiatus comes none to soon, as I feel I am running short on things to say for the present time.
Why do we seek such writing anyway? If you’re like me, you are reading this very piece as you drink your morning coffee or tea. You are mustering the wakefulness required to go about your daily activity, but before you do, you are washing your mind in a bit of confirmation bias concerning the state of the world. Everything is going to hell, and on a daily basis you check in with the news feeds and blogger community to peruse the latest data points that confirm what you already know: climate change is accelerating as superstorms and droughts increase in ferocity. The people in power are still maniacs insistent on walling themselves off from the public with cordons of brutish and overly armed police. People without power are still being brutalized when they stand up for their dignity or merely exist between a capitalist and a resource. Some species went extinct. Some rainforest was clear-cut. Some stretch of ocean was overfished, or used as a radioactive dump-site, or both.
Rise and shine, the world is right where you left it when you went to sleep last night. Now go to work.
A few days ago I asked a young man I know who works as a dishwasher in a deli, “Why do you get up and go to work every day?” He answered, “To pay the bills.” I then asked, “What would happen if you didn’t pay your bills?” “I would be evicted eventually,” he replied. It quickly became evident that I was engaging in an exercise more than I was asking sincere questions, and he quite happily humored me as we ran through the entire sequence of events that would follow his not paying his bills. There are the police who would serve his eviction and the consequences they would face if they refused to do so, the police chief who would fire them, the mayor that would fire him if he didn’t terminate non-compliant police, and on, and on down the line. It wasn’t a new line of thought for him, and after playing the game of hypotheticals, I asked him what was behind this whole machination of human dominoes that forces people to work doing things they hate, like washing dishes in a deli.
He said, “Money. Greed.”
I offered a different possibility. “There is a demon behind all of this, manipulating us. It is an invisible and nameless demon that is trying to eat our souls.”
He laughed. I told him I was serious.
Perhaps you don’t believe in demons. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that no matter how much we know, individually and collectively, no matter how much anger we harbor, no matter how much we hate what it is our bodies and minds are engaged in for hours at a stretch every single day, we still go and do it. Minute by minute, hour by hour, no one is standing there making us do anything. It is all internalized. We are obedient. We are docile. We are domesticated.
Here is where you jump in and interject that bosses and landlords and police and judges all are waiting in the wings to punish disobedience. Of course they are. I don’t disagree. But remember, there are more bosses and landlords and police and judges all waiting behind the first set to make sure they keep to the rules and continue the game of civilization uninterrupted. Though this is obvious I point it out for a reason: there is no one to kill. There is no one person who if eliminated would provide for us the opening we need to stop the insanity of industrial civilization and to build something new, something sane, something with the potential for longevity.
Thinking of such things reminds me of “The Grapes of Wrath.” In the story, Steinbeck writes a scene in which the agents of the landowners come to tell the tenant farming families that they have to leave.
“Sure, cried the tenant men, but it’s our land. We measured it and broke it up. We were born on it, and we got killed on it, died on it. Even if it’s no good, it’s still ours. That’s what makes it ours – being born on it, working it, dying on it. That makes ownership, not a paper with numbers on it.
We’re sorry. It’s not us. It’s the monster. The bank isn’t like a man.
Yes, but the bank is only made of men.
No, you’re wrong there-quite wrong there. The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it.”
The tenant farmers are pushed to anger at the blamelessness and absurdity of their situation.
“We’ll get our guns, like Grampa when the Indians came. What then?
Well-first the sheriff, and then the troops. You’ll be stealing if you try to stay, you’ll be murderers if you kill to stay. The monster isn’t men, but it can make men do what it wants.”
Steinbeck does a masterful job outlining the maddening and perplexing nature of our conundrum; people comprise the system, people act out their roles within the system, but people are not the system. So what the hell is the system? It seems so innocuous. It is rules. It is expectations. It is a series of triggers by which one human action results in an automatic response by another human who is just doing their job, and if they weren’t doing it, someone else would be. Of course, I am not trying to absolve any single person of the responsibility they bear for the actions that they individually engage in. I am however, interested in exploring the construction of the invisible forces that keep all of us participating in a system that we know is toxic to us physically and spiritually, as well as to the living planet at large.
It is so easy to blame the system. It’s just a word, and it is a stand in for the pieces and the whole of everything we see that is wrong with the way human society is behaving. Poverty? Blame the system. War? The system. Racism? The system. But what is the system? If it is just rules, expectations, and essentially stories that we tell each other, then why is the system so hard to change? Why is it so seemingly immutable? Why are we so damn helpless and ineffective at altering something so fragile, so simple, so made up? Could all of us really be so captured by something invented, something spoken into being and jotted down on flimsy pieces of paper? It’s as though we all began playing a game, only to realize that the game was playing us, and once begun there was no way to stop playing, even as we watched our movements destroy the world.
Maybe there is a demon after all. Maybe ignoring the demon, pretending it is not there endangers us further. Maybe the demon is an eater of souls, and its strategy is to diminish our power and our will through mindless labor, through a dulled existence of symbols and static, flashing lights and loud noises, addiction and poisonous food. Maybe for millennia, this demon has been slowly at work, gaining strength and refining its strategy, inserting its desires and ploys into our lives as politics, as capitalism, as war, as revolution, as status, as sex, as culture, as normal, as human nature.
Is it so hard to believe? Look around. Walk through a gas station. Look at the racks full of five hour energy bottles, E Cigarettes, scratch and win lottery tickets, chili cheese flavored corn chips, male enhancement pills, and thirty two ounce aluminum cans full of Monster and malt liquor. Step outside and see the fifty-foot glowing signs advertising Arby’s, Taco Bell, and some nameless pornography and sex toy megastore. Each establishment is serving up a small slice of death, of slavery, of misery. Each storefront and corporate logo is masking a sweatshop, a slaughterhouse, a slave, an oil spill, as another species gone from the Earth forever.
But we don’t believe in demons. We are too rational for that, too objective, too advanced. At least, that is the story we tell ourselves. But then I look around at the tortured landscape and the careless people moving through it who don’t seem to notice that they are traversing a spiritual wasteland, and I have to wonder.
Maybe when we go to the internet in the morning and look for the daily headlines and editorials, we are really looking for a friend, someone of like mind to join us in our knowledge and our fear of the events taking shape all around us that individually we are just too damn small to do anything about. Like office workers who jumped from the upper floors of the burning World Trade Center, we want someone with whom we can hold hands as we take the plunge into a future that has no good outcomes.
Or maybe, we are looking for hope, logging on and scrolling past link, after, link, after link until we find what we have been waiting for; a set of instructions. No more data points, no more statistics and measurements confirming what we already know, but a plan. For God’s sake, the catastrophe is spelled out in neon lights and it howls from a megaphone all day, every day. I have more awareness than my mind can bear, but what the hell am I, are you, supposed to do about it? We are so small. We are just one person. We are already late for work.
Step one: Protect your spirit, for you are in a place where spirits get eaten.
The ecosystem is collapsing at an exponential rate, for anyone struggling with it we have a good Facebook group called Near Term Human Extinction Support Group.
Myself and Mike Ferrigan are starting a radio station where we will chronicle the 6th great extinction as #TheGreatUnraveling takes place, come join us in a supportive environment and help us chronicle the end.
Here is the link indicating out site, Robin Westenrs’s awesome blog will keep the link up to date
It won’t last long, it can’t. What kind of “worker” are you? That’s a common question upon meeting a fellow citizen of malignocity, “What kind of work do you do?” It’s as if any of the work that gets done in this festering disease has any long-term significance. Be you a President or a physician or a rock star, you are nothing. Sure, you may claim more of the cancer infrastructure as your own and suck a disproportionately large share of energy and resources from the planet, but when it comes down to brass tacks, you’re nothing but a functioning component within a mish-mash and morass of head-over-heals cancerous growth. Life destroying growth brought to life by evolution itself which has a tendency to explore the environment for available energy with various throws of the dice. Well, it rolled the ape and it came up unlucky 7, because we found the energy and that’s all it took, just to find the energy.
The information and tools emerged automatically as we began eating anything those tools could access and we didn’t even stop long enough to wonder if it was a good idea to dump all of that carbon into the air, wipe out thousands and eventually millions of species or whether it was a good idea to drive cars to sports arenas to scream and holler on behalf of faux tribes. Yea, we’ve fucked-up real bad. And those little green bills in your wallets, those are your first class tickets to hell, spend’em, that’s what cancers do, they consume, until there’s nothing remaining.
And are you putting your kids on the buses early in the mornings so they can be transported to the nearest incubator for further mind development – reading, writing and arithmetic? So that some day they can have a good job too, building more cancer infrastructure to further rape the planet or perhaps working on new medical treatments so that they may live an additional decade in a semi-comatose state hooked up to myriad machines and indebted to a flim-flam medicine man. You see, cancer never works out in the long run, it’s a one shot deal and what galls me is that supposedly intelligent men from the greatest universities have no other goal than to lay claim to the biggest fucking piece of cancer infrastructure possible and plop it down onto the ecosystem’s surface and just start cutting it to pieces to be fed to the voracious growing tumors. Where are their minds? I’ll tell you, they’re wondering how they’re going to become “successful”, win the competition, be the top dog. That’s all, they’re common bastards educated at the finest universities and they come out only to fulfill their primitive evolutionary mandates. Success at all costs. That low-brow monkey success is going to be very costly, very costly indeed.
Soul? Spirit? The only reason you think you have one is because something in your head is running your behavioral show and you don’t know what it is nor how to envision it within the logical portions of your mind. Your visual centers have never seen a “soul” even though it is surrounded by it. The human soul cannot transmigrate and is not a separate ethereal representation of your body. It is the bundle of neural algorithms that subconsciously run your life. Some peoples “souls” are sweet (going to heaven), some are repentant sinners (going to heaven if they try real hard), and some are nasty (gonna spend time with the devil) and I would guess the algorithms are genetically determined and somewhat modifiable by environment. But the problem is, evolution gave the weak and fallible algorithms control of tools and information, so in reality, nice or not, everyone gets to go to a very real hell of their own making, or their children get to go at the very least.
Well said! Most of the people I know with the so called “successful” jobs are stupid as shit, they are just good at following rules and don’t ask questions. Success, or motivation for success, depends on the level of dopamine in certain areas of the brain, not free will.
Agreed. I encounter far too many people with masters degrees and doctorates who cant operate a coffee grinder or determine cardinal direction on a sunny day.
No one is in control of this dark vortex of death and destruction. It’s a time thief. It grabs your attention, drains you of your sanity, and steals your life. The last day before the apocalypse should be a time for reflection.
According to Kathy McMahon, a clinical psychologist who posts stories of environmental trauma on her Peak Oil Blues website, “We live in an insane culture. Rather than marginalise the cries for reform, we need to normalise the pain. Protest and concern are healthy reactions to loss and grief.”
McMahon believes we study the wrong people; those traumatised by war, violence and environmental destruction. “We should study those who aren’t suffering these symptoms, the so-called ‘normals’, who haven’t allowed these horrible experiences to impact their daily lives. What sort of individual feels none of these things? Those who can’t or don’t feel the loss or who don’t know why they are drinking and drugging themselves, that is the true tragedy.”
Psychologist Chellis Glendinning – in the book Off the Map and essays such as Recovery from Western Civilisation – describes the ‘original trauma’ of living in industrial society, the failure of technology and globalisation to provide essential comforts that nature and community once supplied. This loss, she explains, leads to addictive behaviour as people fill the void with consumption, drugs and fashions. She describes a ‘desperate coping’ manifested as addiction, anger, numbness and attempts to appear ‘normal’ by the standards of an insane culture.
A quarter of a century ago, ecological pioneer Paul Shepard examined natural alienation in Nature and Madness and other books. Shepard proposed that the deficient development of modern citizens has led society to the destruction of its habitat. Ancestral humans, he believed, acquired a healthy reciprocity with nature because young children experienced a mother always present, fathers with comprehensible roles, non-human beings in a primordial terrain, and deliberate adolescent initiation into adulthood.
On the other hand, Shepard explains, industrialised cultures have abandoned nature and divided families, leading to an arrested development. Poorly matured adults, Shepard says, harbour an infantile duality between themselves and nature, fear the organic world, and attempt to fulfill childish fantasies with patriotism, fundamentalism or social status. Like Glendinning and McMahon, Shepard saw the symptoms of this ‘childhood botched’ in massive therapy, escapism, and intoxicants. He described our ‘increasing injury to the planet’ as a ‘symptom of human psychopathology’.
“The only society more frightful than one run by children, as in Golding’s Lord of the Flies,” Shepard wrote in Nature and Madness, “might be one run by childish adults.” – Link
In the last thread, I mentioned that the IEA had recently reported a flattening of CO2 emissions. Roger Pielke Jr., professor of environmental studies at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder, tweeted:
And someone on Reddit posted an excellent write-up running the numbers:
Some Skeptical Thoughts on CO2 GDP decoupling and Negative Emissions
And so nothing really has changed in the grand scheme of things. The collapse of industrial civilization is still very much on schedule and complex systems are running the show, not individual people.
Thanks, a great article. It reflects so well the failed arguement of so many who say all we have to do is get rid of capitalism and the “system” will then be at our beck and call.
Although from an AGW ‘skeptic’, still worth noting:
China’s Greenhouse Gas Data is Dubious at Best
…Based on the rapid rate of increase that has been taking place over the past 15 years right up to 2013, it appears exceedingly unlikely that China reversed this trend and saw substantial carbon dioxide emission reductions from 2013 to 2014.
Furthermore, according to the BP Statistical Review, renewables only comprised 1.50 percent of China’s total primary energy consumption in 2013, up only slightly from 1.22 percent in 2012. Summing primary energy consumption from nuclear, hydroelectric, and renewables in 2013 for China only gets to 9.6 percent of total energy consumption, just a marginal increase from 9.3 percent in 2012.
The percentage of China’s total primary energy consumption from oil, natural gas, and coal was effectively unchanged between 2012 and 2013 — remaining at 90 percent — further suggesting that a large reduction in this nation’s carbon dioxide emissions took place during 2014 due to the rapid influx of low-carbon energy sources deserves serious skepticism.
The IMF has China’s economic growth for 2014 set to come in as the lowest since 1990. Rather than decoupling economic growth from carbon emissions, if indeed China’s carbon emissions stabilized in 2014 — or even declined — any such stabilization or decline is instead most likely occurring because of rapidly dropping economic activity. But based on the low quality of statistical data from China, skepticism should remain the default position.
That is almost axiomatic.
“This world’s capitalism came with a bucket.” – Dr. Melvin C.C.C. Methaphor
Robert Callaghan said:
Emissions down says EIA. Carbon-Dioxide up. Get used to it.
There are 2 invisible demons I know that plague humanity.
They are the only 2 things humanity agrees on.
Life After Death and Money.
We could fix money, but we are too afraid.
I think you nailed the hammer on the head with those demons.
LOL, I got that a little backwards. Maybe I should get checked for dyslexia.
I recently finished the book “Chasing the Scream” by Johann Hari. It is about drug addiction, drugs and the so called war on drugs among other things. It is a remarkable work where one finds that 80 percent of one’s “knowledge” about a particular subject turns out to be bullshit. In any case, the author comes to some of the same conclusions, about the human condition in our current society, that is, that many here have voiced. I particularly enjoyed his discussion on the fallacy of the old rat/drug addiction experiments and the observations of a certain researcher in creating an environment he named “Rat Park”. Oh and it is no surprise that many of us are so medicated.
mike k said:
“We should study those who aren’t suffering these symptoms, the so-called ‘normals’,
who haven’t allowed these horrible experiences to impact their daily lives. What sort of individual feels none of these things?”
This made me think of a poem I wrote several years ago:
If you don’t hurt
Then you may be
Sicker than you realize.
If you don’t cry
May be frozen.
If you have’nt screamed yet
Then your sanity
Has become a disease.
I like that.
Will humans survive, despite themselves?
Friday, March 13, 2015
Oregon woman sets herself on fire, crashes car, jumps off bridge – and lives
(Reuters) – An Oregon woman who set herself on fire while driving, crashed her car on an interstate and then jumped off a highway bridge to a park below, survived the ordeal and was being treated at Portland area hospital, police said on Friday.
Another driver reported in an emergency call to police that the woman was driving recklessly on Interstate 105 and hit a median before crashing near an exit in Eugene on Thursday, about 110 miles south of Portland, according to the Eugene Police Department.
The 39-year-old woman then, still on fire, got out of her car and jumped off the interstate highway bridge, despite nearby witnesses’ attempt to intervene, police said.
The Eugene Register Guard, a local newspaper, reported she also began stripping off her burning clothes before she fell some 40 feet (12 meters), though police would not confirm that.
The woman did not have life-threatening injuries, but no further information about her condition or location was available, police said, adding they believed she was trying to end her life…
mike k said:
TDOS – Your words are a precious oasis in a desert of madness and delusion. Your demonic entity reminded me of Maxwell’s famous demon attempting to violate the second law of thermodynamics by sorting molecules in a closed container divided by an inner wall into two compartments, with a door in the wall that would selectively open or close depending on whether a molecule was of the fast or slow variety. A trip to Wiki soon had me over my head in advanced physics, so I decided to apply Maxwell’s idea in another context.
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Now if we put a demon with the ability to open or close the door between our warring sides, then how the demon chooses to open or close the door will determine which side grows and which side diminishes. Gurdjieff said that one of the first signs of a person awakening from a lower state of consciousness is the appearance of Real Conscience (as opposed to conventional conscience which is based on the flawed conditioning of ordinary culture). This was known as viveka in the spiritual culture of India – representing a power of discrimination based on true understanding.
In G’s teaching ordinary people are living and choosing on the basis of a false personality – similar to being ruled by the demon you have posited. For a person to become aware of this and begin to discover/create/install a higher source of guidance and action within themselves is essential to their possible spiritual awakening and the opportunities that opens.
In my understanding this possible triumph over our deep conditioning is only possible with a process designed to dethrone the false ego and all it’s disastrous misunderstandings, and people willing to enter into work and practice which amounts to a second education. The ideal setting for such work is a small group based on egalitarian principles. It would of course be optimal if such groups would proliferate and eventually have the power to alter society in the directions it must go in order to survive…
What td0s said.
Plus, consider that the “wolf” is a scapegoat and the “Cherokee” is a metaphor.
I would add that both could be the children of a certain mechanical uncertainty (On The Origin of Genieology).
Look the bright side, a dishwasher is still better then this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fqrRhqv0Iw
Excellent read. Thought provoking. Thanks.
david higham said:
Well done,tdOs. No stopping this train. No driver in control, either.
James mentions the importance of energy. The master resource. I was thinking about Jared Diamond’s’Gun,Germs and Steel’. It’s been a while since I have read it, but a fascinating read. However, in the introduction he states that the reason he wrote the book was that one of his New Guinea friends asked him why Diamond’s culture had so much cargo and the New Guinea culture had little. While the book’s explanations are very interesting, from memory Diamond does not delve into what is the primary underlying reason, which is that the original New guinea society was operating within the constraints of energy inputs from solar energy only, while Diamond’s civilisation was built on the energy bonanza of fossil fuels. A bonanza which is finite and has brought limitless devastation to the planet.
david higham said:
Today’s essay by George Monbiot (monbiot.com) is worth reading.
There is no essay for today David, but I like this one from last week except for the hopey change part. Sorry George there will never be any meaningful agreement, just more circle jerking.
Applauding Themselves to Death
10th March 2015
Why the UN climate talks have wasted 23 years, and how this can change.
I liked this one.
david higham said:
That is the one I meant. I should have been more specific.
Thanks, Apneaman. I am using a chromebook now mainly. I just mention the link so that everyone has to put more effort in.(joke). I’ll have to update my rudimentary computer skills.
East Antarctica Melting could be Explained by Oceanic Gateways
Ocean access to a cavity beneath Totten Glacier in East Antarctica
Robert Callaghan said:
good read ap
mike k said:
One of the key objectives of abusers is to convince their victims to give up all hope of escape, to accept that they are powerless to do anything against the oppressor. The abuser seeks the delicious pleasure of enjoying total domination over his helpless victim.
We live in an abusive culture. If there were no other reason to resist it’s tyranny, I would choose to resist it simply in order to deny it ultimate victory over my deepest selfhood. I want to shake my fist in the face of whatever seeks to deny me the ultimate freedom to determine my own response to a reality that seems certain to crush me.
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I think society is far larger and more complex than we could ever possibly design from the ground up. The system evolved over many thousands of years and it just keeps going as if it was something independent of all the people who make it run, because it is – I suppose in science it would be called an emergent phenomenon. We can tweak it, and it evolves as time goes along, but we can’t just all decide one day that we don’t like the way it works, and agree to change everything around. It would be like trying to dismantle a plane and turn it into a completely different model mid-flight. It would crash. As much as we may hate what the system is doing to the world and to some of the people in it, at least it does generally keep us alive. If everyone just decided one day to never go to work again, most people would die pretty quickly. The system works and keeps barreling along because most people do what needs to be done to keep it going, most of the time. They work, earn money, spend money, pay taxes, get into debt etc., and everyone requires everyone else to do their jobs so that the system works well enough to meet our biological needs. Like it or not, capitalism/consumerism is the most successful kind of society that has ever existed because it gives us what we need and want… so far. There’s just this one little difficulty that it is trashing the planet and is completely unsustainable. Perhaps someone smarter than I can figure out a way for us to get out of this predicament alive, but at the moment, it doesn’t look good.
Icarus 62, I just wrote my comment and came back to see yours. I think we’re on the same wavelength this morning.
Societies self-assemble and grow organically to maximize energy and resource flow. There is no planned economy and never can be. Even with the attempt at a planned economy, black markets arise to fill-in the gaps and thereby maximize economic activity and profit. Sustainable would not be sustainable for long as the human penchant for cheating and deception would guarantee the establishment of a shadow economy that would attempt to maximize profit derived from nature. Human nature, derived from appetites and needs established within the evolved brain, sets the course we will take until collapse. There has been no voluntary restraint and likely never will be. Instead there will likely be various attempts to expand onto the territory of competing tribes. Even the ecosystem constantly attempts to maximize energy and resource flow, but persists because of its relatively long-lasting energy source and non-use of life-toxic materials. Even today large human populations are killed and displaced to satisfy the non-negotiable growth imperative or in desperate attempt to maintain current levels of metabolism. ISIL represents the stressed tribe and the brutal behaviors which have emerged will likely occur regularly in many locations and may find expression on a national level once again as occurred in WWII Germany. Nations and individuals should be prepared to defend themselves from attack and be prepared to see through the propaganda often used to open the gates to societal and individual brutality.
Yes, completely agree. Well said.
Robert Callaghan said:
Life After Death and Money are 2 of our strongest beliefs world-wide, yet both are not real. Money = Energy. If we make Carbon = Money, we can change the world all together at once, at the same time. We are too politically slow to do this.
Runaway Irreversible Unstoppable Mass Extinction In 30 Years !!!
That’s the headline you should see every day but, in fact, you will never see.
Think about this very seriously. I am just a guy who cuts grass in a trailer park in Canada. I’ve compiled the following list over 2 years, now, why won’t the progressive news media ever provided this data for you? Because it interferes with their funding polls.
► 99% of Rhinos gone since 1914.
► 97% of Tigers gone since 1914.
► 90% of Lions gone since 1993.
► 90% of Sea Turtles gone since 1980.
► 90% of Monarch Butterflies gone since 1995.
► 90% of Big Ocean Fish gone since 1950.
► 80% of Western Gorillas gone since 1955.
► 60% of Forest Elephants gone since 1970.
► 50% of Great Barrier Reef gone since 1985.
► 50% of Fresh Water Fish gone since 1987.
► 40% of Giraffes gone since 2000.
► 30% of Marine Birds gone since 1995.
► 28% of Land Animals gone since 1970.
► 28% of All Marine Animals gone since 1970.
► 93 Elephants killed every single day.
► 2-3 Rhinos killed every single day.
► Bees die from malnutrition lacking bio-diverse pollen sources.
► Malnutrition weakens bee colonies for disease and poisoning.
The War On Poaching only drives up prices enflaming the profit motive for organized crime. Our crop and pasture lands are responsible for 80% of species extinctions. Climate is only 1 out of 6 Direct Drivers of mass extinction. The other 5 drivers are essentially population based. Everybody wants you to think that renewable energy is The Answer. If you even give a crap, you can read more here.
This is your cage…
…There is almost nowhere on the internet where you aren’t being sold products: be it physical, ideological or cosmological. This is the message in the medium. Information, relationships, connections and so on are all consumable. Quantifiable in nature, ever expanding in form: this is the world stripped of life and coded in binary and algorithms.
That information that you were after, that pressing question you had to Google, that curiosity that you had? Those are all starting points. The internet does act like a web. Every point is measured in its relation to others. It is a multiple-choice adventure at all times and if you weren’t aware, the hyperlinks can sell you on directions that flashing ads might not.
They want you to click. They beg you to click.
Once you do, you start down their rabbit hole: this fog of consumption of information and products, opinions and trivia. There’s no explanation for how you found these random factoids when you paste them in on your News Feed, but there’s a science to it. Click. Share. Integrate.
At its heart, this visceral assault is not a new concept. We’ve known from the inception and integration of the television how this external and contrived fantasy (especially when driven by fright) deeply impacts our fight or flight synapse. We are overwhelmed with options even if they all lead to the same complicity.
This is how our brains work.
And this is what the programmers know.
That is why they can adjust algorithms on Facebook as a social experiment to see how the tone of a News Feed can impact worldviews. They call this “emotional contagion”. To date it’s been clearly exposed at least once as part of a weeklong emotional experiment conducted through tweaking the tone of shared content in your News Feed on Facebook.
This is your cage…
david higham said:
I haven’t read it all, but the industrial revolution started almost two hundred years before the green revolution.
mike k said:
We are all involved in a game of life and death. I didn’t choose to enter this game, but I was “thrown into existence” as Heidegger so tellingly put it. Swim or sink, find your way or be lost. Even to opt not to play is still within game – its just another play. This epic drama of life and death is the “only game in town” as the inveterate gambler explained to a friend who asked him why he continued to play when he knew the wheel of fortune was rigged to guarantee he would never win.
Isn’t that where we find ourselves in this last chance café at the end of the universe? Every day spinning the wheel one more time, knowing that one time it will land on double snake eyes death heads, and all our chips and everything will then be over forever….
mike k said:
…And yet…..and yet…..there is Something that draws me on beyond the game as I presently understand it. That Something draws me on towards some impossible reality beyond the game….
I was just considering the rate of entropic decay of much of the complexity we’ve brought into existence with the burning of fossil fuels and how long it will last. I guess that at the outside, most of it will be broken, dispersed, rusted, leaking or in some such similar state within the next 100 – 150 years. It’s sort of a moot issue since most of it will lose its value with the rapid depletion of remaining fossil fuels. We’ve spent many millions of years of sunshine energy on rapid evolution and growth of unsustainable technological complexity. What residual value will all of this infrastructure have? It seems to me it will be a total loss along with the people that would have experienced that loss if they had remained alive.
And yet our leaders seem completely preoccupied with monkey politics. Even the Netanyahu supporters were jumping up and down in emotional ecstasy as the Alpha leader promised a strong stance towards the neighboring Iranian tribe. My aunt always said the Jews were really smart people, but perhaps that was just a little extra propaganda Bernays floated years ago, they seem pretty average to me.
The Japanese are building a 260 mile long sea wall to protect themselves from tsunamis in the future and probability says that the ocean level will have inundated the areas behind the sea walls before there’s another big tsunami, but do your own calculations. Where’s the energy going to come from to rebuild all of civilization every couple of hundred years? If a cancer had a mind it would likely ask the same question, “Where are we going to get all the resources and energy we need to continue growing? If only we could get to that healthy body over there.” A cancer making the jump to another body would be like humans making the jump to Mars or some imaginary, unexploited, resource-rich planet. Thank God cancer ,for the most part, is not transmissible and neither are humans able to overcome the barriers of space to afflict some other healthy planet.
Like the Dark Age descendants of the Romans, the survivors will tear down our Colosseum’s, Forum’s and great temples for building materials for their new and impoverished living arrangements. matt1 provided a link earlier in the thread to a video of what future employment will look like for many of the children of today’s middle class (the lucky ones?). Sometimes I wonder – how fast will we be able to consume the infrastructure of industrial civilization? Looking at the “ship breakers” in action it is obvious that even they cannot do what they do without tools and energy produced by industrial civilization. My guess is there will still be some remnants of the ancients stone monuments (and Mt Rushmore?) standing when all the steel monoliths of industrial civilization have gone to rust in the wind.
[The picture essay seems more haunting than the video.]
March 16, 2015 at 2:05 pm
Look the bright side, a dishwasher is still better then this:
The Gnostics of Late Antiquity would have understood this essay completely. Certainly they would have instantly identified the “demon” as the Demiurge or Cosmocrator. I have rather a lot to say about this subject, and so am going to say nothing, other than share a poem I chanced upon this past week by Herman Melville, which in the first stanza alludes to the demon:
Fragments of a Lost Gnostic Poem of the Twelfth Century
Found a family, build a state,
The pledged event is still the same:
Matter in end will never abate
His ancient brutal claim
Indolence is heaven’s ally here,
And energy the child of hell:
The Good Man pouring from his pitcher clear
But brims the poisoned well.
mike k said:
The Diamond Body
Is not of gross matter built
But when that heavy stuff
Has long since disappeared
The Shining One
Continues on and on….
House GOP budget calls for cuts to CIA and DOD programs devoted to study of global warming, despite fact that military has identified climate change as a major national security threat and a key priority.
mike k said:
Another Melville poem:
CONVULSIONS came; and, where the field
Long slept in pastoral green,
A goblin-mountain was upheaved
(Sure the scared sense was all deceived),
Marl-glen and slag-ravine.
The unreserve of Ill was there,
The clinkers in her last retreat;
But, ere the eye could take it in,
Or mind could comprehension win,
It sunk!–and at our feet.
So, then, Solidity’s a crust–
The core of fire below;
All may go well for many a year,
But who can think without a fear
Of horrors that happen so?
So Melville fears that the very fire that gave us birth will
in the end rise from within the Earth and destroy us.
But what if life finds a way to finally tame the fire that
Prometheus unleashed? Is such cleverness beyond us?
To be continued….
By surrounding themselves with protective technologies and by extending the lifespan of the average human, is it expected that this technological path will result in near infinite separation from death? All we have to do is integrate into our machines which seem to be extremely resilient to environmental insult. It is the very fact that they cannot be recycled naturally, among other factors, that will guarantee a dead-end extinction for humans inside their technological bubbles. Should the technological world replace humans with robotic facsimiles then protecting the environment will be much less important. However, there will be no more “reason” for their complexity and existence than for ours. The pursuit to engineer an artificial intelligence is counterproductive as any mechanical being would be subject to the same evolutionary forces as life and the lifespan of our robotic replacements would soon plummet as competition for scarce inorganic materials resulted in extreme warfare and predation.
Maybe HAL9000 can send a distress call into space as humans gather into their last hope technological ark, the Metastasis, to be blasted into the vast deserts of space. Orbiting Mars: “You can do it Hal, we need your help to land this ship. “Sorry, I can’t do that Dave, it’s over Dave” Final looping transmission: “Metastasis terminated, biospheric contamination level 9, average surface temperature 134F, malignancy terminated – biological recovery underway.”
mike k said:
A root problem is that lower levels of life programs conflict with and actively suppress emerging higher levels of adaptation. For example, competitive programming conflicts with the need to reach and stabilize cooperative functioning. Hoarding works counter to sharing. Short term advantage trumps long term planning. Our problem is how to foster and protect fragile new programs against older established patterns.
Either we learn to resolve this basic problem, or it will result in our technological means destroying us. The things we need to do that allow for a long term happy life for our species on Earth are very simple and obvious. Our population numbers far to large given our limited resources. Our modern technology is too rapidly depleting our resources and dangerously polluting the environment.
The difficulty in making necessary changes to our dangerous situation is that individuals and groups acting from earlier levels of evolutionary adaptation rooted in struggle and violence are preventing the necessary transition to higher levels of functioning.
The only way this needed transition to higher levels of behavior can happen is if sufficient numbers of persons become aware of this imperative and devise means to educate more of us to understand and implement the proper actions leading to a sustainable and cooperative world. This growing edge of consciousness must develop power capable of displacing those who are operating under older programs, or else they will lead us to destroy our species. Our choice is either to awaken or die in our sleep.
Good summary of the earth’s disrupted hydrologic cycle.
Angry Waters: The Human Hothouse vs the Imperative to Preserve Life
“Don’t have any doubts we‘re going to increasingly control the use of water”
“It’s interesting that the two largest carbon emitters in the world are down at the bottom of the list about professed concern about climate change.”…
…Average local temperatures now are about one degree higher than they were in the mid-20th century. But temperatures by 2070 may increase between four and 11 degrees…
Arctic sea ice covers record low extent this winter, freezing over smallest extent since satellite records began in 1979
New age of water wars portends “bleak future”
…California’s record 15-year drought, the AWWA study shows, has been accompanied by the depletion of 41 acre-feet of groundwater and 12 million acre-feet of surface water. When the groundwater runs dry, and if the drought persists, US farming will collapse. The potential onset of an El Nino might lead to a return of rain that could alleviate this problem, at least temporarily, but even so, the long-term trend looks grim…
Climate Change Puts California Economy, 7th Largest in the World, at Risk of Collapse
No water, no economy
Imagine the ramifications for your state if it were to run out of water. That is the immediate challenge facing California. January 2015 was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. This is not a recent weather event: NASA data shows that California’s water storage capacity — in the form of its lakes, snow levels, water table etc. — has been in decline since 2002. There is no contingency plan for this level of climate change for the world’s seventh largest economy.
The economic ramification will range from measurable to catastrophic. Two-thirds of the state’s water losses are tied to the agricultural community’s pumping the aquifer dry. A point of diminishing return is being reached with increased reports of dry wells. California’s agricultural industry is on the precipice of economic decline and may be heading toward collapse due to a lack of water.
Rationing is now a topic of discussion in California. Water conservation has been as much of California’s culture as energy conservation and renewable energy. But conservation cannot overcome this scale of drought and water shortage. Rationing appears the last option available, and it holds the potential of dramatically curtailing economic activity.
Rationing means that people and businesses will have to reduce their economic activities due to a lack of water. One obvious impact will be a lack of water to serve the approximately 227 million domestic person trips annually to California that generates over $100 billion in visitor spending. It has the potential to impact the operations of California’s tech companies that the rest of the U.S., and the world, depend on to run their economies. It will certainly mean less food sourced from California with higher prices at grocery stores across America…
A paper I wrote comparing the transposition of human features onto technological creations seems to have had some merit. Not only do we have a specialized area of the cerebral cortex for recognizing faces, the fusiform facial area (FFA), but it’s existence may influence the design of things such as cars and houses. Look carefully at the front of cars, the two headlight eyes, the smiling or menacing grill, the brand emblem nose and you see a subconscious transposition of a human bias onto a technological product. All we need to complete the transference is to equip each with with a dual buttock trunk with centrally located tailpipe for noxious emissions.
This characteristic or bias can also be found in architecture in which bilateral symmetry and the entrance (facade) take on special design significance. Another bias to consider or our subconscious brains at work involves finding your car in a parking lot. Usually, if you clear your mind of all thought and just begin walking you will end up at your car. How much of what we do is actually conscious? All drivers have probably experienced driving a car on subconscious autopilot while the mind ranges somewhere else. Sleepwalking is also of interest, when the body moves of its own accord without much awareness at all. With all of the subconscious brains operating out there to create this terminal growth, how can reality be brought to the “consciousness”, especially when there are emotional biases that prevent such things from being considered. Consciousness would rather go tribal (another bias) and destroy the “environmentalist” messenger. Anyone or anything standing between a human and their imagined or real rewards is going to elicit anger and violence.
Initially novel stimuli that engaged consciousness are relegated to the subconscious to be accomplished without bothering the mind. Much of our entire waking experience becomes a routine engagement between the environment and the subconscious. I doubt there can be a gradual withdrawal from the routines but rather a sudden jolt or cold turkey may have a greater chance of success in changing our habits. To be thrust into a completely new environment where new things must be learned and new ways of living established. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, so maybe this will be for the young while those set in their ways will simply be unable to adapt.
Florida’s governor has banned the use of the words “climate change” by state employees. Using these words could land one in a mental health institution. While we’re at it, why don’t we ban the words “death”, “Darwin”, and “evolution”. Don’t scare the sheep while they’re being sheared, it might upset the ponzi. While we’re at it let’s ban the word “drought” in the state of California and we can ban the word “Super-typhoon” in Hawaii. Wait, wait, wait, let’s ban the word “cancer” because it’s just rather unpleasant. I’m sure the techno-apes are planning to deploy new machines and infrastructure to deal with the overwhelming problems arising from previous deployment of machines and infrastructure, even as the ecosystem’s tumor infested body begins to wither. Environmental Protection Agency, now just what is that supposed to mean? Why would a cancer seek to protect the body it’s eating unless it was completely delusional anyway. Why doesn’t the EPA shut down all economic growth and begin a steady contraction? Because we “believe” and act on any damned thing that our emotions desire, a fantasy world of never-ending growth without consequences.
“climate change, global warming, sustainability, and sea level rise”… all banned:
The fantasy of human sustainability should be banned when discussing civilization.
david higham said:
First comes the bandemonium,then the chaos.
Florida State Government workers banned from using the words “climate change, global warming, sustainability, and sea level rise” and required to undergo psychiatric evaluation if they do utter those words
It’s worse than I initially thought. Just goes to show you that government will tell you everything’s great right up until the ship goes vertical in the water or the tsunami surges onshore. At that point they’ll be at the stern or the highest prominence with megaphones imploring people not to panic. I’ll say it right now, for those with the slightest bit of sense, it’s time to panic and leave the stupid bastards to preach to the stupid bastards, they deserve each other. The Homo sapiens clock just moved forward to “stupid bastard” meaning there are just a few more ticks to reach the midnight hour of “dead bastard.”
How can “CC,GW,SLR & sustainability” be banned without Florida speaking or writing them to notify state employees that they can’t use them. Looks like there will be a lot of mental evaluations of state employees. It would be great for the media to list every place these terms are used in the state banning process.
Hypocrisy will chew some up & spit them out.
Ron White: “You can’t fix stupid.”
“In terms of the currently accepted picture of the relation of man to technics, our age is passing from the primeval state of man, marked by his invention of tools and weapons for the purpose of achieving mastery over the forces of nature, to a radically different condition, in which he will have not only conquered nature, but detached himself as far as possible from the organic habitat. … My purpose in this book is to question both the assumptions and the predictions upon which our commitment to the present forms of technical and scientific progress, treated as if ends in the themselves, have been based.”
That was Lewis Mumford writing in 1966. What’s changed? We recycle some stuff now. People in China routinely wear face masks as if their were inhabiting an inhospitable alien environment, which is what it is increasingly becoming. What’s not changed? The few people who are willing to give voice to their concerns remain an insignificant minority.
People in this arena talk about reaching a critical mass for collective action. That mass has already been set – in the other direction.
People are in denial. But the ban on those select words in Florida out of the thousands of possible entries in the English language implies a tacit admission there’s a problem, just like face masks, more fuel efficient cars and ineffectual recycling implies there’s a problem. That’s as far as any reasonable person can expect most people to venture. Like an addict, admitting there’s a problem entails drastic change which means an end to the way people live. For Floridians, it would mean evacuating disappearing coastlines. People aren’t going to leave voluntarily; they will flee like insects from under an overturned rock.
The act of attempting to distance one’s self from something betrays an affinity with the phenomenon in question. Take John Michael Greer. He goes to great pains to distinguish his brand of collapse from the apocalyptic scenarios popular in mainstream fiction and Hollywood, yet he’s still dealing with collapse. And it’s interesting to read the barely restrained excitement when he points to Friedman attacking Heinberg as a harbinger of potential turmoil on the horizon.
Everyone is on death watch, howsoever we espouse the rate at which it will enfold, and it’s little more than entertainment, as JMG acknowledges when he concludes plugging his new book with “so get your copy now, pop some popcorn, and get ready to enjoy the show.” To argue anything else is pretend. While I agree with a lot of what JMG writes, he’s still comes off as a smug and pretentious asshole.
What cities mean to me.
-Entropy sinks. Import energy; export shit.
-Pockets of cultural incest. Is it any surprise people are solipsistic when they have only their artifacts, a couple of marginalized animals and themselves to look at?
-Giant brothels of systematic inequality and exploitation.
-Places where people congregate seeking to live off the work of others for free.
-Hyper competition where people smile and pretend to be your friend when they have designs of stabbing you in the back, killing your kids commercially and fucking your wife.
-Places where these people have too much fucking free time on their hands, which leads to
-a cornucopia of speculation, fantasy, gossip and scandal mongering
-a perverse enjoyment in sadism,
-and a hopelessly distorted view of reality.
david higham said:
good comment. I think you mean Paul Krugman attacking Richard Heinberg?
That’s right. Thank you for the correction. I mixed up the two NYT morons.
Massive amounts of fresh water, glacial melt pouring into Gulf of Alaska
Jerry McManus said:
Propaganda in the digital age, or how I learned to stop worrying and love my automated overlords:
That Moron Who Spews Garbage and Doesn’t Listen to Reason May Be a Bot
Jerry McManus said:
Not really news, but just for the record:
Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we’re nearing collapse
Jerry McManus said:
Dystopia is here and we’ll be lucky if serfdom is as bad as it gets:
Serfdom Is Better Than What the West is Heading For
As seen on the Hipcrime Vocab:
The Information Superhighway to Serfdom
Elite opinion does not want to hear that mutual aid was a major factor in evolution. It turns out that those societies which cooperated and shared were much stronger. That’s the main takeaway, IMO.
I had never considered that dopamine could be a blinding agent, able to manipulate the mind by having it concentrate on technological/scientific and business endeavors to the exception of most else. Why? Because that is where the reward is, in the creation and marketing of new tools and products, in the efficacy and efficiency of metabolizing all of those resource gradients. There is no money in the broader picture, it just doesn’t fit into the behavior/metabolism of this malignant civilization. It would be expected that human minds through evolution would lean towards giving more cortex real estate to information and tool use and other areas that guarantee a return on investment. If I were able to return to life in ten thousand years and if humans had somehow survived despite themselves, I would probably find something quite different than exists today, perhaps a human without emotions that has a cerebral cortex that is completely dedicated to processing technological information and building tools. In that case it would be fine, once their specific functionality is no longer needed, to terminate them without the slightest hesitation or empathy. No more crying about long hours or low wages, the brain will have changed to suit the machine. But this is just wild speculation by one specimen of human that couldn’t give flying f*^ & about the internal rate of return on anything or whether the alpha-protein folds this way or that. Humans are ants captured by the process, tunneling, building, eating, doing what their neurons tell them to do. Keep going little ants, the queen is dropping eggs like there’s no tomorrow and your pools of black sugar have not yet dried up. Some day it will and the little ants will stand about befuddled, until they die that is, while the royalty takes wing in search of more of what no longer exists.
They just won’t quit.
Pipeline key to water supply for NLV Apex project
That’s the way, building useless things and then build again and again.
Until the last block of concrete.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Economy: The world economic system is in a structural crisis from which it will not recover. The morbid symptoms of its demise are increasingly evident. It is now mainstream knowledge that the major banks of the world routinely launder money for the drug and arms trade.
Furthermore, the so-called middle class is at an end, even if the working class has not yet stepped up to replace it. Inequality is at an all-time high, with rates of poverty and affluence, malnutrition and obesity, reaching ever more epidemic proportions.
One-third of all food is wasted. Women own only 1 percent of the world’s property. The absurdities of our economic system are increasingly well known and recognized. An article by Matt Taibbi in the Rolling Stone had a comprehensive title: “Everything is Rigged:”
Today the only thing saving face for the global economy is the Federal Reserve Corporation in the United States. Endlessly printing more money (around 85 billion per month) has substituted for any serious restructuring of the economy since the 2008 crash, and profits are again at record levels – while employment and wages stagnate. The same scheme is underway in Europe, too. But this empty bubble has come at irreversible cost: If the economic indicators improve, the central banks will stop printing more money, upon which everyone now depends. So we are now in a twilight zone, where good news about the economy is actually bad for the economy. In economic doublespeak, recovery is countercyclical. But the hypercomplexity and jargon of the world economy cannot hide its fundamental instability. Capitalism returns to crisis like a dog to its vomit.
The economy is the white horseman of the apocalypse, representing both evil and righteousness, wearing a crown and armed for conquest…
…We are witnessing an end times to the capitalist system. As Marx predicted in the most concise way, the enemy of capital is capital. But since this is not comprehensible to the majority of those too invested in the capitalist life-world to understand the contradiction, we are at an impasse of unconsciousness, just when we need to be most awake…
California Spends $1 Billion on Drought to Keep Nestle and Big Oil Happy
…Scow points out: “Governor Brown is penalizing Californians for their water use, but is giving a free pass to agriculture and oil corporations that are over-pumping and polluting our State’s dwindling groundwater supply. Agriculture uses 80 percent of California’s water while urban and residential uses account for less than 15 percent.”
FWW explained how the “westside of the San Joaquin Valley” which is the “almond empire” region, is guilty of “over-pumping vast amounts of groundwater and will mostly be exported overseas. Last year the Westlands Water District pumped over 600,000 acre feet of groundwater-more water than all of Los Angeles used that year. The Governor needs to direct the State Water Board to manage California’s groundwater as a public resource and not allow corporate interests to deplete our dwindling groundwater.”
There is also the need for a “moratorium on the controversial practice of fracking that has resulted in the pollution of many aquifers in the Central Valley with oil industry wastewater.”
Scow said: “If the Governor was serious about protecting our water he would issue a moratorium on fracking to stop the ongoing pollution of 2 million gallons per day of fresh water and stop the ongoing dumping of oil wastewater into our aquifers. California’s aquifers are crucial and must be protected in order to save and store water for the future.”
Recently the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) reported reported on the financial relationship between Brown and fossil fuel corporations which keeps fracking going amid the drought.
Another watchdog group exposed Brown’s pay off for keeping the oil companies happy while California residents are placed under water usage restrictions.
In the report it showed that Brown has received an estimated $2 million for signing into law a recent favorable bill for the fossil fuel industry.
Financial contributors to Brown include:
• Occidental Petroleum
• Phillips 66
A 2014 report the Ceres Investor Network (CIN) concludes that those areas identified as having a severe shortage of water happen to also be regions “heavily targeted for oil and gas development using hydraulic fracturing.”
Another shocking use of California water is the unmonitored pumping of groundwater is depleting underground aquifers. The scariest part is that “no one in California knows exactly how much water is being drawn from the state’s aquifers, because the pumping of underground water is not measured or recorded by state or federal agencies, or by any private party.”
Highlighted at the core of the problem is Nestle Waters North America (NWNA) who has “continued its operations despite the worsening water crisis.”…
The Problem of Scale and the Art of Abstraction
The other day, I asked students if any of their great grandmothers were still alive. More than once, the answer came back that she was ‘in the sky.’ It should have been obvious the dead relative is in the ground. Euphemisms aside, I wondered how it was that a human mind could contrive to understand the exact opposite of reality and still function. Or was this a case of undiagnosed schizophrenia? As it turns out, a DSM – a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – does come in handy when dissecting the current malaise in industrial society. Depression, anxiety, angst, ambiguity and confusion in roles and orientation, alienation, de-familiarization, atomization, relativism, and ‘post-modernism’ are all symptoms of abstraction. Consequently, so is fantasy-driven delusional thinking.
Jackson Pollock was a pioneering visionary in the art of manipulating abstraction. He hit on the foolproof idea of defecating horizontally instead of along traditional vertical, gravity-propelled lines. Painting with a full palette instead of conventional brown was a further break with canon. His projectile efforts have had such a lasting impact, that to this day no one can tell if it was high quality compost or raw sewage he was spewing. He made a shitload.
In most the major metropolitan art schools, you’ll invariably find self-imposed malnourished aesthetes making shit stick for a living. This is called ‘self-expression,’ ‘avant-garde,’ ‘progressive,’ and ‘controversial.’ They end up thinking they’ve accomplished something of profound importance that makes ‘a statement.’ Meanwhile, everyone nods their heads in earnest, while demurely sipping wine out of plastic cups, furrowing their brows in concentration as they pretend to derive some shred of meaning from all this nonsense. The most important part of this exercise in self-importance is guarding your perplexity against discovery even though everyone is thinking the same goddamn thing: a fucking child could have made this while throwing a tantrum in an overturned shithouse. Pretension owes a lot to abstraction.
What’s the difference between a drone pilot playing a video game and one in service of the US military? Nothing. They’re both exercises in abstraction.
There is too much of everything human in this world to make any sense of it. As anybody who’s ever been to a sports stadium should know, the mass congregating there to intoxicate themselves with bacterial shit and comparable industrial waste called junk food, is more like an unpredictable undulating rash of flabby flesh than an ordered assembly. A million man march? In the midst of it, you won’t be able to garner more than a fraction of the scope. In a helicopter, it isn’t composed of individuals, but vague gyrating pinpoints. And the implications for 7.1 billion people? You can’t encompass something so large. It defies comprehension. The Planck scale has more to offer the understanding.
Past a certain point – say 200 people, abstraction kicks in. People cease being subjects with a volition, and become anonymous objects to be manipulated. We resort to statistics for insight, and as Stalin knew, they invite atrocity. Morality is anchored in the concrete. It’s easier to fuck over someone you don’t know than to fuck over your neighbor. What if things have gotten so out of hand that you don’t know your neighbor? Well, Jesus’ maxim becomes that much less operational, doesn’t it? Gone are the days when djinns resided in identifiable locations like volcanoes or rivers with tangible ramifications for fucking things up. Now the genie has left the bottle to occupy some nebulous realm <>. Ever since, all the great philosophical tracts have tried to reconstruct glass out of ether. Attempting to mold a new moral system for a social body of great scope and scale far removed from the minute details of daily life – from Aristotle to Aurelius to Kant – fails to capture the imagination because the mind is adrift without an anchor. There is no concrete referent from which to direct it. This leads to some very moronic and paradoxical behavior.
Plato was an elitist prick who set us down a perilous path where ideas supersede reality. It was a skip and a heartbeat away for Neo-Platonists to render his ideas palatable for Christianity’s transcendentalism. We’ve been floating in an abyss ever since. C.F. New Age, Environmentalism, Vapid Sentimentalism.
Money is the present-day poster child for an unmoored entity. When something can be exchanged for anything else, when it can simultaneously represent a positive and a negative -‘looking like a million bucks’ and ‘being the root of all evil’- you begin to realize why meaning has become unhinged and how superstition and irrationality have taken root instead. People have no other choice.
Alf Hornsborg argues money is a means of mystifying unequal exchange and he’s right. Unfortunately, it takes over 120 pages of esoteric academic prose to make the point – a struggle through a forest so dense that Amnesty International had no choice but to include the book in its list of illegal torture practices. The problem, of course, is he’s using an abstract medium to demystify an abstraction. Our opposable thumb freed up our tongue and we’ve been mired with words ever since. Even if people were motivated, poor Alf would command few readers. Most people are too preoccupied with the problematic abstraction of money to have much time for anything else. It turns out prices are a very good predictor of human behavior. It’s why we’ve seen a spike in gas-guzzling SUVs in recent months. The legally myopic in America can only live in the NOW. Zen Masturbation becomes default, free of history or context. Nature abhors a vacuum, but Capitalism thrives in it. No wonder they are diametrically opposed. A kind of pervasive dementia has set in. Who says it only afflicts the elderly? I met a man who gestured around him at all the vibrant verdure and asked, “What problem?” If you haven’t yet moved your trailer home near the vicinity of the tar sands or a mining pit, you might be inclined to agree with him. If a bear shits in the woods and you aren’t there to see it …
And what of the ‘pie in the sky,’ ‘the soul in the hole?’ Who can argue with the intangible? Abstraction admits no rebuttal.
Jerry McManus said:
Orlov has a nice crispy take on the serfdom thing:
The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure
Public spending on roads, airports, bridges, railways and power grids is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened
david higham said:
The last essay by George Mobus at questioneverything is worth reading.
There’s a perennial debate on whether hunter and gatherer tribes were pristine angelic communities or not. A good litmus test is to consult a person with fluency in Pawnee, Sioux, Iroquois or any other Indian language and ask him if he has words like ‘rape,’ ‘theft,’ ‘hostile takeover’ or ‘slave’ in his lexicon. The one stipulation being that these words must occur pre-Colonial contact. That should settle things once and for all.
Indigenous tribes are neither pristine nor completely corrupt, but somewhere in between. They are, after all, human with all the propensities to love and hate. It’s impossible to really study them objectively because of what happens when we do try to make contact with isolated tribes:
…In 1987, Sydney Possuelo – then head of Funai’s Department of Unknown Tribes – decided that the current way of doing things was unacceptable. After seeing tribe after tribe demolished by disease, he concluded that isolated people should not be contacted at all. Instead, natural reserves should be placed aside for them to live on, and any contact attempts should be left up to them to initiate. “Isolated people do not manifest among us – they don’t ask anything of us – they live and die mostly without our knowledge,” he says. When we do contact them, he says, they too often share a common fate: “desecration, disease and death.” – Link
Hi Mike. I have a post for your consideration. If you’d like to read it, please email me and I’ll reply with it back.
(PS: It’s far from angelic).
No one is presuming any human group was ever perfect or “angelic.”
Correct. They are just objects of romanticization, which are then used to support certain claims on future human potential.
mike k said:
We search everywhere for what is staring us in the face, waiting for us to see it. It is impossible to discern the obvious through the many pairs of glasses we are looking through. Those glasses have become structures and organizing algorithims in our brains. Setting those glasses aside even for a few moments is the long work of various methods of meditation. It never occurs to us that everything we are doing to solve our problems might actually be only complexifying and deepening them. Trapped in the quicksand of our minds, our struggles only serve to quicken our demise.
When Gurdjieff’s student Ouspensky finally realized the depth of our human dillema, he asked in desperation, “What then are we to do?” Gurdjieff replied, “Do!!? Man can do nothing!” This shock set Ouspensky on a new track – the search for being.
Is what G. said baffling? Of course it is – it points in what for us is a new and unforeseen direction….
Jerry McManus said:
I tried to explain this here in a previous thread, but apparently it either wasn’t read or wasn’t understood. Maybe this guest post on NBL will have better luck:
CO2 emissions are not the same as CO2 ppm
You hear a fart; that’s an emission. How bad the room smells is the ppm – basically a percentage. They’re positively correlated although I’ve read there’s a lag. The author needs to eschew dry academia and frame the explanation in a way stupid people can understand because there are a lot of dumb morons out there. You’d have to be f’n stupid to screw up the land so that you can’t live on it anymore. Ecologically, we’re about the same as any other animal – oblivious to the consequences.
So, the differentiation is moot. People still smoke even though they know it causes cancer. What’s the difference between luminosity and magnitude? Who cares? The light bulb is burnt out for our species.
It’d make a good Jeopardy question, though. “I’ll take ‘Stupid shit people do and the minor differences that won’t change their actions’ for 200, Alex.”