On Social States

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(Disclaimer: this is more metaphorical or more literal based on your preference. I don’t think it changes much about the argument.)

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There’s a joke about fish and water and ignorance. We know about oxygen, so that’s not our joke. But our joke is similar.

The setup differs, but the punchline is always the same: “I thought you were in charge here!”

It says something (bad) about us that we use the same for inspiration: “The power was within you all along.” Continue reading “On Social States”

Foucault, Scoundrel

(a joke continued from here, this is not a full post)

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CXXIV. [... ] For we are founding a real model of the world in the understanding, such as it is found to be, not such as man’s reason has distorted. Now this cannot be done without dissecting and anatomizing the world most diligently; but we declare it necessary to destroy completely the vain, little and, as it were, apish imitations of the world, which have been formed in various systems of philosophy by men’s fancies. Let men learn (as we have said above) the difference that exists between the idols of the human mind and the ideas of the divine mind. The former are mere arbitrary abstractions; the latter the true marks of the Creator on his creatures, as they are imprinted on, and defined in matter, by true and exquisite touches. Truth, therefore, and utility, are here perfectly identical, and the effects are of more value as pledges of truth than from the benefit they confer on men.

Novum Organum, Francis Bacon

The important point here, I believe, is that truth isn’t outside power, or deprived of power[…] (contrary to a myth whose history and functions would repay further study, it isn’t the reward of free spirits,the child of prolonged solitudes, or the privilege of those who have been able to liberate themselves). Truth is of the world: it is produced by virtue of multiple constraints. And it induces the regular effects of power. Each society has its regime of truth, its ‘general politics’ of truth; that is, the types of discourse it harbours and causes to function as true

The Political Function of the Intellectual, Michel Foucault

How gauche.

Truth and Lies in a HyperNormal Sense

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JEREMIAD ON TRUTH

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“Wake up sheeple!” is déclassé but you still want to say it. Hence, HyperNormalisation.

That’s not a comment on the film, it’s a comment on the use of it. Normally it’s silly to trade in audience reactions as though that defined the art; guilt by association and Hitler ate Boca Burgers, etc. But HyperNormalisation takes “media and its effects on the individual” as a primary theme, so it’s meta by design. That the audience has taken this (one) theme as the primary one, and then spread that through media is meta^3, ~6 Becketts on the Pirandello Scale. It also opens up the entire problem of modernity and truth.

Here’s a review of the film: HyperNormalisation is good. Adam Curtis is probably the best working documentarian. Neat. Moving on.

Let’s talk about truth.

Continue reading “Truth and Lies in a HyperNormal Sense”

God of the Gaps: A Psalm

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The throne of God shrinks daily, so goes the argument. It retreats into holes. Science (capital S) will one day finish filling these and on that day there will be no more room for God. Science should better listen to itself – nothing ever really touches, the void between particles is eternal. But, yes, I understand your meaning.

Only small things fall through gaps. Indeed, God’s antimacassar was too large, and so the glory of the church had to go. His throne is now stained and dirty, for only small things fall through the gaps, and those are things like grease and ash and dust. Continue reading “God of the Gaps: A Psalm”

Four Questions

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A KIND OF INTRODUCTION

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There are only four questions that this blog will address. They aren’t the only questions, but they’re my questions for now.

I don’t have answers for them. I also don’t have the question part of the question. Call them problems, then. Lacking formulation, they are:

Mathematics
Comedy
The 1960s
Yes/No

I understand if this seems strange.

Continue reading “Four Questions”

Why We Talk About Economics

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AN ARTICLE WITH WHICH TO BEAT YOUR FACEBOOK FRIENDS INTO SUBMISSION

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One day I will write about why Donald Trump won the election. By then the post will disappoint: its main features will already be familiar, taken from similar and better articles. It will be like an acquaintance whose name you’ve since forgotten. “Kevin or Keith?” you’ll say to my article, but it will be neither.

The debate over why Trump won isn’t exactly dull, but it’s constricted by the same debate that preceded it. This is not to say that the debate is constrained: Analysts are agape and spewing histograms, heads swiveling like owls’. Commentators are catching the froth and straining it for nuggets, screaming the name of each as they flop it across the web like fishmongers. An anthropology major who rated the new T Swift album 7.8/10 cannot believe his luck: the words emerge viscous but stentorian in his sieve. “White! Supremacy!” he bellows at the internet, volleying 5000 words (12pt., double spaced) at Medium. But a proud mother (Texas, God Bless) perched above another human fountain has polished hers: “Outsider! Election!” she roars. And a smaller lump emerges, connected to the first: “Anti-establishment!” And so each side continues shrieking, the grates of their strainers perfectly calibrated to catch what suits them and let what doesn’t dribble back onto the poor data loser’s sputtering chops.

Continue reading “Why We Talk About Economics”

Samuel’s Data

10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us.”