Why Biology Blows Minds

I learned some biology, read a few biology books after I turned fifty, and promptly suffered a medication-assisted mental breakdown that jettisoned me out of my life. A famous leading biologist suffered such crises while learning biology and while developing some huge theories (meant in the grander sense, not of guesses). Two fellows, that is hardly a trend, but this is only my knowledge, and honestly, I haven’t checked for a larger trend. Even if it’s only the two of us, it’s worth a look, considering one of them is me.

This was three years ago for me now, and of course learning the truth about the biological world probably wasn’t the problem, the problem must be the setup an early life without biological knowledge. Learning something that you never knew before, that you knew nothing about before, that’s one thing, but if you learn something and it breaks you, then you were thinking something blatantly wrong about it and you didn’t probably even know you were thinking it.

That sentence could be a synopsis of The Blank Slate, and perhaps that’s part of it, it did help me see that I had some version of the ghost in the machine going on, that I thought of “the mind” as something ethereal, but really, these discrete, blatant conversations about invisible things or not, these we litigate out loud, we’re not shaken by questions of materialism anymore. I’m not, I don’t think. It’s got to be something less conscious than that, less debatable than that to break people.

So, you all know how this goes, now I have to finagle it so that it’s seeing, or nearly seeing my antisocialization thing that does it to us, I mean probably. I’ve come to expect it, it’s gotten to where I expect that every honest exploration is going to take me there – but I must say, it’s not obvious to me at the moment, not like the rest of these angles I’ve thought I had it rather easy with. That answer is what came along with the crisis I had, but I don’t think it caused it – although I should stop just before that and recuse myself. That was a trauma. If anyone is in a position not to properly analyze it, I suppose everybody else knows that would be me. There was a ramping up of trouble though, with this insight at the peak, not at the start . . . still.

Of course, the other fellow didn’t have my insight at all, few have, he had his own, many of them, and many proven and accepted and now a big part of the world of real knowledge. Wait – was the first one relatedness theory? Because that might read as a rather cold, brutal refutation of the loving world someone may have been selling us, that love and family really is a function of our microscopic parts and described with some arithmetic. That might hurt a sensitive person, it’s the same sort of emotional kick in the gonads as my idea, maybe. Ouch.

I think this one stops here for awhile, I think long and slow, and this is sort of news for me at the moment, that it’s not only me and my idea that . . . offend, when we learn deeper truths about the world. Big words exist for this, deconstructionism, decolonizing your mind, but that’s not how I talk, not how I need things spelled out for me. I’m rather taken with the other fellow’s language, deception, self-deception, and maybe it’s not even the clash of the lie with the new truth that hurts so much as all that, but rather that we fight these battles alone and the prize for victory is also solitude.

Wow, that got awkward quickly.

 

Jeff

June 2nd., 2019

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Beyond Evolution VS Creation

New idea (sort of), that what Darwin, what evolutionists are up against is not some offense that we are “just animals,” but rather what I’m up against, the mimic meme, the great social myth that humans are different because we’re nicer, that our special development isn’t just a special version of mean.

This is our species’ false origin story now, maybe always, that we rose above the animals through “cooperation,” or “altruism,” and in that sense a “morality handed down by a god or a godly messenger” would fill the same purpose in one of those forms, in any given sentence in one of those arguments -the myth that we dominate this world because we are better and not because we are worse. I think the offense evolutionists face has the same flavour as the offense voiced in opposition to permissiveness, to leniency and the advance of liberalism generally, and that’s the larger context for it, not so much whether humans are partly divine, or whether there is a god or not – but whether our lifestyle, the social order, supported by these rationalizations is right or wrong. I don’t mean capitalism, or the patriarchy, for me, all these serve the human warrior society; capitalism means money may abuse, patriarchy means men may abuse. I mean the abuse itself, not who or what is allowed to do it, but that someone always is. That little factoid gets flipped upside-down in this false backstory of ours, that is what’s supposed to make us better.

(New readers may have some confusion. For me “abuse” includes all abuse, socially sanctioned punishments included, because punishment is a technology that includes the application of abuse. Punishment, in our world, is supposed to make us “better,” while abuse, punishment’s major component, has been shown quite robustly to make us “worse,” at least in the eyes of the law, educators, medicine, etc.)

Perhaps something here explains that while evolution generally had popularity, even its adherents had resistance to Lamarck, to the idea that we create ourselves, and that that resistance is still alive and fighting, apparently. If it’s the great machine, OK, we say, fine, evolution, and we are still created beings, formed by forces larger than ourselves and beyond our control. We are still not self-aware or self-responsible in this state, and there is still the room for and a need for God, despite the apparent conflict. Indeed, this would seem to be the creature we see in the news and any dreams we may have of great human destinies do tend to fade with experience and age. We can be managed in certain ways, but humanity cannot apparently be reasoned with.

That’s the mimic meme too, not just some parent, beating their child to “make them good,” but the larger, social idea that it has worked, and that we are good, again, that we have won the tournament against the rest of the world and bent it to our stupid, stupid will – because we are “good,” altruistic, cooperative, empathetic . . . a lovely list of words, to be sure. Evolution is acceptable if we are horrible but powerless in the process, and evolution may be acceptable if we have had a hand in it, but if that’s going to be the story, we had better look “good” in that story, or first, who wants to hear it, and second and more importantly, what good does saying it do? We’re not supposed to tell a child they’re bad, only that their action was bad, because we don’t want them to take it to heart, so how do you tell apes that their bad actions have the unfortunate effect of making them bad? Talking about abuse still, always.

I tell myself I don’t write for children. I know I’m looking for dangerous places to be – honestly it’s all just talk now, I’ve already ruined my real life by taking this issue on with my child-rearing – looking for dangerous things to think about. I hope I’m not making anyone crazy with this, but I’m operating at a very young age in my cynicism; I’m still clinging to the idea of truth above all. If I didn’t have that delusion to chase, I’m afraid I wouldn’t have anything at all.

I think I understand about crackpots now, about people that get obsessed over a viewpoint. For me, this is the heart of the matter, of all matters, and so any talk at the higher levels in these matters, cultural, political, religion vs atheism, all seem secondary, but I’m sure a lot of people have their own idea of where the heart of the matter is. I’m willing to allow that matters have more than one heart, an unknown number, no doubt, but honestly, this is the one I’ve found, and frankly, whether it’s big enough to explain all that I think it does, I can’t have the certainty I’d like about that – but it’s big enough to keep me busy for awhile yet, I think. Honestly, I am staring into the abyss, I’m not trying to share that part, but you probably see. I need something that I can fool myself is important, to keep me busy, you know what they say about idle hands.

At least until I get some sense somebody else has gotten the idea, that I’ve been able to breathe life into this meme, and see it thriving and reproducing out there in nature.

 

 

Jeff

May 25th., 2019

Motivating the Great Unwashed

IF the racist bell curve were a real thing, then what it would mean is this: that 49% of white people are below average and 51% of black people are below average. I don’t buy it, just IF.

Anyone trying to base any sort of policy and budgeting that discriminates by race is prioritizing the inferior 49% of whites over all blacks, defying their own logic immediately, Charles Murray distributing public resources to these inferior whites and depriving the superior blacks, because “superior/inferior,” wasting our tax money in exactly the way he’s arguing that we shouldn’t be. Considering the demographic proportions in America, he’s wasting almost six times the resources, trying to educate the bottom half of the larger white population!

So we know Charles is in that group, he’s just trying to elevate himself, because if things were a meritocracy, that sort of logic would keep you out of the good schools. Of course, that’s whose interests are to prioritize their group, their “people,” the inferior ones want to enjoy the benefits the superior ones have acquired. “Racists are stupid” isn’t just anecdotal, because of course the less intelligent members of the dominant race are motivated to be all in on race, on their group’s dominance. That’s just science.

A fine place to drop the microphone, but it raises the question – is there something the modern liberal society does to counter that motivation, something we do to motivate the whites in the other direction? I mean, we try to talk and teach, but do we do anything to actually motivate them in the other direction? It’s a new thought, but I must say, nothing is coming to mind!

And what might that be? Now we have to start to examine whether an actual meritocracy isn’t also inherently cruel, that a white meritocracy is what threatens the less gifted and drives them to their group attachments, race attachments . . . it’s always the false dichotomy, the false choice, isn’t it? Somebody has to get the shitty end of the stick. Do you want it to be your kids?

I don’t buy that either, nobody has to get the shitty end of the stick.

Fuck that guy and his shitty stick. I’m sorry, that’s where it all goes for me, all of our problems are the same one problem.

 

 

Jeff

May 24th., 2019

Directions, expanded

Just an update, I’ve tried to stretch this for clarity.

I wasn’t going to write this blog – and I didn’t. It’s just a Twitter rant. But it’s a clarification, certainly an important part of antisocialization theory.

 

  1. Sorry for teasing, if anybody was. I’m afraid this trailer signified the end of my output for now. Anyway, like a lot of it, I’ve already laid this idea out before. But rather than send you back to an earlier, dumber me, I’ll give it to you in point form, Twitter style. /more

(This referring to a teaser tweet from a few days ago with the following text)

Well, I’m almost sixty.

I guess it’s time I stop all this infantile radicalism and start spouting some long-winded lullaby about some stupid middle of some boring road. Have we met? LOL, you’ve met me now! I can’t imagine anything that would capture me better than that with all the time and ink in the world.

How about some compromise between Man the Rational Animal and Man the Meaningless, lost in relativism and adaptations to adaptations to we don’t even know what anymore?

Shouldn’t need our teeth for that. Grab your cardigan, put the kettle on for a nice Ovaltine and watch this idiot finally stop trying to tear the world down for some rebuild that he should have known since statutory adulthood was never coming.

(Then on to Point Number two. From here, I’ll try to expand, stretch out the shorthand to something someone can follow.)

 

  1. The point of antisocialization theory is that our punishments schemes and abuse push our personalities in a DIRECTION, and perhaps that direction is the opposite direction to where our schemes push our behaviour for the most part, meaning we LOOK better, but we FEEL worse. /more

What I’m after here is the idea that while use of punishments does control some behaviours, making life better and safer at home within our group for the most part, where our most egregious individuals are controlled, exiled or killed, there is a cost and a downside, and that is that each of us are participating in fighting him and so to some degree the violence we are trying to stop him from we are now all involved in.

It’s hard to imagine that we have a technology that makes this negative energy (these negative causes and effects) disappear, energy doesn’t disappear, it is converted, moved – stored, perhaps in this case, the individual murderer’s violence is traded for our group violent control, we lose a murderer and we all become police, jailers, executioners, and share the load of some violent constant, nothing created and nothing lost. This goes to conscious evolution, and self-domestication. I don’t think you can beat yourself passive. I think if we are domesticated, we are also the slavers as well as the domestic labour pool, it has to be a process of splitting, and for us to be getting more sheep-like, we must also be getting more wolf-like. It would seem that the existing state of evolutionary psychology is focussed upon the success of our conscious efforts and our growing sheep-like traits, they are writing books to explain our decreased violence and our ability to work together.

I think they’re ignoring the dark side. I accuse them in my heart of leaving human pain, misery and mental illness to the “blank slate psychologists” they say will never solve anything. I worry that for them, just as for parents, none of which ever went to parenting college, this punishing business is a magic bullet, no cost, no downside. I say this a lot, and if any of them think I’m wrong, none of them are engaging me about it. Of course, I’m no-one and unpublished. Social media is a place to talk, not necessarily a place to be heard; I can’t know any of them have read my complaints.

Frankly, as things have been, group conflict almost always being our biggest problem, my “dark side” is a feature, not a bug, makes us strong and we’re still here, not selected out. But if it’s a feature, why can’t we talk about it? Conscious evolution is going to require that we don’t have huge areas we aren’t conscious enough to talk about.

 

  1. There’s a lot of stuff to say and fight about there, but for now, this: abuse produces more crime, and discipline produces more effective armies, and so the DIRECTION pain drives our personalities in is towards fighting, violence, defensiveness, aggression. /more

Just to clarify, violence is a large component of all those vocations, the common factor. When attempting to engage in science, we try to get beneath social constructs like dividing violence into criminal and law enforcement violence, because there are common elements that predate ideas like law and crime, things to know about it beyond the current value attachments. Abuse is a component of both criminal abuse and military discipline.

 

  1. “Abuse,” when I say it in these contexts, includes punishment and discipline, because those things include the use of abuse. But, addressing this question, we have a PRINCIPLE, a near species-wide behaviour, that pushes us in a particular DIRECTION, so – /more

By this I mean to agree with Richard Wrangham and any before him that have traced the progress of our civilization and seen the role of our majority rule, punishments and capital punishment, I agree that yes, this is a human trait, perhaps universal. People know the power of punishment, for me, people know the power of abuse. I agree, we all know the power of conscious punishment to reach some of our conscious goals. I believe myself, that we also unconsciously know the power of abuse to reach our perhaps less conscious goals. And maybe this less conscious part is the less malleable part, and so the more universal part.

I think where our conscious efforts take us, Wrangham probably tells this story very well, but being conscious and overt, perhaps this is flexible, sort of steerable what we teach, what we punish for, what crimes we designate and what behaviours are mandatory, and cultures certainly vary. But abuse, this provides direction, pretty thoroughly documented by all sorts of social science, and while things are being debunked, the whole general direction isn’t likely to be. That direction is violence, fighting, and it springs organically from the application of abuse, regardless of the lesson intended. Statistically, I mean, by Big Data.

 

  1. – so determining initial conditions, like some “human nature,” with its connotations of innateness, isn’t either the point, possible, or necessary. We know what DIRECTION we’re swimming. We know where we’re TRYING to go, where we are working to TAKE our natures to. /more

Hmmm . . . this bit’s clear enough, maybe . . .

 

  1. So much for origins and innateness, but also the more nuanced position of endless relativism, of adaptive fictions and constructed realities – again, maybe we can SAY we don’t know which way is up or which DIRECTION we’re swimming, but look at us: /more
  2. When you see all the salmon struggling in the same direction, maybe they don’t have a clear idea what it is, or maybe they wouldn’t tell us and give away their ancestral homeland to us predators, but they’re all swimming the same DIRECTION and so we can glean it. /more
  3. You must know where I see us all swimming to: strength, discipline, and never-ending war and strife. This adaptive behaviour works for the last group standing, I suppose, and we’ll be down to that soon enough if we don’t see where we’re trying so hard to get. /done

This is where the rubber meets the road for me, that we talk about either our static “natures” getting us into this pickle, or the never-ending conflict is an accident, some default we fall into because we’re just not trying hard enough or something – when I’ve had this insight that it’s what we do the most, the things that we never let up on for a second that have brought us to this state of affairs, and those are our punishments, and again, I think we can’t beat ourselves passive.

 

 

  1. you ever get tired and sad and give up and try to beg off and NOT write something brilliant? SMFH. 🤓🤣🤣🤣

 

Jeff

May 12th., 2019

The Extreme Case

My main point is, all the pain we administer to one another, legal or otherwise, all hurts us, angers us, and statistically drives us to violence and group conflict. Abuse does this, and the abuse component of our intended deterrents also does this, because pain is pain like water is water and things like pain and water have real world properties beyond our desires for them.

Perhaps my largest iteration of this is that societies that are hardest on children are the most fearsome at war, illustrated by parables like the Spartan mother who kills her son when he returns home with a wounded back, suggesting he had retreated. The real-world display of this principle is that that the current Spartans, the current world empire with an unbeatable military is the last country of the former First World that is not signing the UN Rights of the Child Charter, America.

The extreme case is that the Nazi and/or neo-Nazi groups are filled with angry young men, abused by their mothers, fathers, and their surrogates and directing their anger to strangers from other cultures, strangers with different skin tones or churches.

I was busy on a project, replacing the tuners on my guitar recently and didn’t change the TV channel all day and wound up watching one of the expose/infomercials about American white supremacy groups and the police who infiltrated them. At one point, an officer tells us he messed up, potentially ruined his cover by starting a story with “When I was in college,” – a major red flag in that world – and scrambled to cover it with the story that his dad had made him go, he’d gone one year and gotten booted for some racist violence. That got him through, because his dad made him do it, and he hated his dad for it, he hated his dad . . . they all understood that. And they all agreed that brown people and Jews would pay the price, that hunting down their own white fathers isn’t how it works.

If that isn’t the power of antisocialization theory working like bloody magic, wind them up and let them go, and they never seem to make the connection.

Enough, isn’t it?

 

Jeff

May 10th., ,2109

Directions

I wasn’t going to write this blog – and I didn’t. It’s just a Twitter rant. But it’s a clarification, certainly an important part of antisocialization theory.

 

  1. Sorry for teasing, if anybody was. I’m afraid this trailer signified the end of my output for now. Anyway, like a lot of it, I’ve already laid this idea out before. But rather than send you back to an earlier, dumber me, I’ll give it to you in point form, Twitter style. /more

(This referring to a teaser tweet from a few days ago with the following text)

Well, I’m almost sixty.

I guess it’s time I stop all this infantile radicalism and start spouting some long-winded lullaby about some stupid middle of some boring road. Have we met? LOL, you’ve met me now! I can’t imagine anything that would capture me better than that with all the time and ink in the world.

How about some compromise between Man the Rational Animal and Man the Meaningless, lost in relativism and adaptations to adaptations to we don’t even know what anymore?

Shouldn’t need our teeth for that. Grab your cardigan, put the kettle on for a nice Ovaltine and watch this idiot finally stop trying to tear the world down for some rebuild that he should have know since statutory adulthood was never coming.

(Then on to Point Number two)

 

  1. The point of antisocialization theory is that our punishments schemes and abuse push our personalities in a DIRECTION, and perhaps that direction is the opposite direction to where our schemes push our behaviour for the most part, meaning we LOOK better, but we FEEL worse. /mo
  2. There’s a lot of stuff to say and fight about there, but for now, this: abuse produces more crime, and discipline produces more effective armies, and so the DIRECTION pain drives our personalities in is towards fighting, violence, defensiveness, aggression. /more
  3. “Abuse,” when I say it in these contexts, includes punishment and discipline, because those things include the use of abuse. But, addressing this question, we have a PRINCIPLE, a near species-wide behaviour, that pushes us in a particular DIRECTION, so – /more
  4. – so determining initial conditions, like some “human nature,” with its connotations of innateness, isn’t either the point, possible, or necessary. We know what DIRECTION we’re swimming. We know where we’re TRYING to go, where we are working to TAKE our natures to. /more
  5. So much for origins and innateness, but also the more nuanced position of endless relativism, of adaptive fictions and constructed realities – again, maybe we can SAY we don’t know which way is up or which DIRECTION we’re swimming, but look at us: /more
  6. When you see all the salmon struggling in the same direction, maybe they don’t have a clear idea what it is, or maybe they wouldn’t tell us and give away their ancestral homeland to us predators, but they’re all swimming the same DIRECTION and so we can glean it. /more
  7. You must know where I see us all swimming to: strength, discipline, and never-ending war and strife. This adaptive behaviour works for the last group standing, I suppose, and we’ll be down to that soon enough if we don’t see where we’re trying so hard to get. /done

 

you ever get tired and sad and give up and try to beg off and NOT write something brilliant? SMFH. 🤓🤣🤣🤣

 

Jeff

May 4th., 2019

Rule of Rules: the Unseen

There is a great, empty space in our minds, and it’s right in the middle of everything. It’s a place we cannot enter, but we must go to all the other places, so we’re always going around it, unaware. We live in curved space, we say, there is no straight line to anything; the quickest route is always an arc, around this unspeakable void in the centre of everything. The straight route is just around the next corner, always.

Of course, this meme works for many scenarios. The forbidden place can be the loss of God to an evangelist, the unconscious to an analyst, etc. I think to evolutionary biologists and many psychologists, when they must insert this void into their writings – a “black box” exercise, the trick of gleaning what you can from observing a thing in a system when the thing’s function is unknown – I think, to these modern scholars it is “aggression.” It’s a variation on the Man’s sinful nature theme, an unexplained, blanket value judgment right in the middle of our earnest attempts at understanding, science, psychology, everything.

Two paragraphs, that’s all the tension I can build, I don’t make you wait. I’ve worked it out, or I worry that I have, I mean, I’m not happy with my answer either, but I also haven’t changed my mind since yesterday: it’s abuse, or rather the mental and emotional pain of abuse. I’ve looked at rules and punishments, and while I understand the concepts of deterrent and control, the narrative about civilization and majority rule (as recently expounded/expanded by Richard Wrangham), I also understand some things that should place all that in some perspective.

First, the same suite of scientific thinking about humans and their origins that includes this majority morality places us as still being that proto-hominid, that ape, just under our skin, and all the glory of modern civilization, in another but parallel conversation doesn’t add up to spit, it’s a veneer and we are constructed of the same wood as chimpanzees. To talk about our moral accomplishments is an odd, puffed up stance that fits better in church or politics than in science.

Second, I did a thought experiment along the lines of one of Kant’s (OK, the only one I recall, the first part of the book I haven’t finished. He’s tough) about time and space where he decides that he can imagine space empty of things, but no things not in space, or time passing without anything happening, but nothing happening without time passing while it does, and so space and time to Kant were properties of the mind, since his mind could not operate without them. My point, the analogy is, rules and punishments are endlessly variable – “Thou shalt not kill” has its correlate in many times and places among nearly all people when thou shalt absolutely kill or be shunned, reviled or killed yourself. In a less extreme and more accessible vein, different societies have different rules, and things forbidden in one place can be ubiquitous elsewhere, some societies generally are more permissive than others – but all have rules, all have punishments.

No one rule is sacred, though some are more universal than others, and no penalty is sacred, though we say they all are, they change, new rules are created with new technologies, etc., – but we can imagine a completely alien set of rules and we perhaps cannot imagine a society with no rules at all. We can perhaps imagine a completely foreign set of punishments to go with a given set of rules – but can we imagine no punishments at all? Wow, I started the Critique nearly forty years ago, this analogy may have figured hugely in my approach to this.

Mama, can this really be the end?

No. Rules serve a purpose, one we all know – but no particular rule serves this purpose, none are indispensable, yet the purpose exists, so we are able to accomplish it with a set of rules that I assume I’d need some proof to call random, but that can certainly be variable, enforced with a set of penalties that are, shall we say, also an opportunity for some human creativity. So here’s the game: pick your rules, pick your penalties, we don’t care which ones, but you have to pick something from each bin. What does this accomplish, when we’ve ruled out the contents of any given rule?

The first, easy biology answer is of course, dominance. If the content of the rule doesn’t matter, then it’s who writes it, and who forces it upon whom, and clearly, that is absolutely what’s going on, all over the place, no question. The discriminating aspect of rules are all about our human groups, about who has to follow the rule and who doesn’t or who is forgiven and who isn’t.

But don’t even our most egalitarian dreams have rules and punishments, don’t our socialist or democratic fantasies about majority rule still include some built-in idea about rules and punishments, like time and space? Even in our utopian dreams, remove the alpha, the king, we still need rules, right? He was just taking advantage of our older habits, using the rules to his advantage. So, dominance, yes, but not being in that game myself, I don’t place a lot of priority on it. Again, perspective: we ain’t all alphas. That the minority dominants enjoy the situation doesn’t explain why you I and Kant can’t imagine no rules at all, ever. I think, when the excrement has flowed downhill, and the alpha’s bad mood today reaches the zeta man-ape and he turns to beat his wife and/or children for it, I think to call the zeta’s reactive violence “dominance” isn’t right, he’s defined as lacking it, and punching down is not how you acquire dominance, that requires punching up, to climb the ladder. To me it makes more sense to define these transactions as happening at the more basic level, not some highly developed concept of social dominance as much as just the cause and effects around social and physical abuse. A by-product, if you will, if you want to fit this into a worldview about civilization, about organization and dominance. Yes, he learned the rules, and yes, he knows his place.

My concern is that his lessons pissed him off.

And that, I worry, is the deeper point of them. Rules come and rules go and penalties are subject to changing times and to whom they are applied, but there must always be some set of rules and somebody must be penalized – the details don’t matter. You all know this. Here’s a story, names forgotten to protect the innocent (except mine, so it’s all knowable).

In my kid’s elementary school, some kid wrote some nasty gossip in the girl’s bathroom, and people had ideas about who did it but no proof, the school wasn’t bringing in handwriting experts to prove the matter. It was probably kid A, but there was a strong case about for kid B doing the deed knowing it looked like the work of kid A. Honestly, I can’t remember who got the punishment, a call home, maybe a suspension, I was already anti-punishment, I didn’t want to see any child punished, but they picked one and punished – knowing they had a fifty-fifty chance of punishing the right kid – actually something less than fifty-fifty, because there were other possibilities besides the main two kids. A message had to be sent, no crime goes unpunished! This function was served, despite that justice had less than an even money chance.

Even the perpetrator is interchangeable! Just so long as someone gets hurt. Dominance, sure, that principal over those kids, grownups generally over kids – but really, only an even money chance, if she got the wrong kid, a case can be made for the guilty kid’s dominance of everyone there. If she got the wrong kid, it was pure abuse for that kid, the whole world of grownups throwing in with the other kid’s dominance. Of course if she got the right kid, then the principal’s (and adults’ generally) dominance and the child’s experience of the penalty are all things we all agree with – but I submit we have still pissed that kid off. She may learn the lesson, but another kid may learn the same lesson in a nicer way, and if so, these kids’ life histories will be altered in different ways (statistically), both have the lesson’s knowledge, but one has a distasteful experience and memory. Deserved, didn’t “deserve,” this is not the point, the changes are the point. A different society, different set of rules, different crime, maybe a whole different “deserving” dynamic – same changes, this is the point. Doesn’t it sound like some white kid version of a super-villain back story, the unfairness?

What affects us is pain, not some long-winded construction about what the pain is supposed to accomplish. Pain is simple. Any idiot can cause pain and make changes in the world, especially if they’re actually trying to cause it. I know I’ve caused plenty while trying not to, but if I had been trying all these years, I think I could have done worse. I’ve been working all this out for myself and finding concepts I thought I had to name – I said “mimic meme,” and I switched to the generic sounding “useful fiction,” but if I’m talking biology, I’ve just heard “adaptive fiction,” so I guess that’s the term. At some point, though, at some level, if our adaptive fictions are pervasive enough, they become our adaptive truths, self-fulfilling prophecies.

I want to call this rule, that there must be rules and penalties and so pain, regardless of the particulars, one of our foundational adaptive fictions except that once we have adapted to it so completely, “fiction” doesn’t quite get to it; if it is inescapable in the human world, a case can be made that it’s an adaptive fact. If it’s our rule, and we make the rules, then this rule is factual enough for you, something like that? I think in reality it’s a fiction, just maybe not for us.

But it will need to be if we’re ever going to take the next step.

 

Jeff

April 28th., 2019

Abuse, Driver of Inequality

School: Children’s Boot Camp

 

I was powerfully moved by the description I read in the Nurture Assumption of what Rich Harris termed something like the “eternal children’s group” and especially by the description of the Yanomamo children’s group, described by an anthropologist – Mead? Or maybe the fellow who has come under such scrutiny lately about it? – the description being that in a little hunter/gatherer/warrior group, the boys teach each other to fight, and the boys who don’t or won’t fight are abused until they do or until they are killed. Even under the shadow of the general bad attitude anthropology has sometimes had, I’ve been to school: this may have been cherrypicked, but it’s not outlandish. Perhaps the scandal is in labelling some group of brown folks in this way – I don’t mean to say all hunter/gatherers are warriors, I only mean to reference the ones that are. Of course the point is us, Canada has a military.

I grew up in the context-free West, west of west in white Canada all the way out on the Pacific, and I thought parents raised children in some way, certainly most of us do and as parents we try, but this is a fairly new bunch of ideas, childhood and parents spending a great deal of time administrating this childhood. It seems this children’s group may be the more aboriginal and evolved situation, and so it seems we learn our important lessons from one another in childhood, not so much from Ma and Pa – and we are abused, usually in the same sphere.

This makes some sense by social relatedness theory, your tribal cousins will have more leeway to abuse you for their warrior ends than your parents, who are presumed to protect their genetic progeny, not aggress against it. Interestingly, if in the industrial world, adults are taking a bigger hand in trying to direct childhoods, some of the discipline and indeed over-discipline we see would seem to indicate an ability to work around our feelings of relatedness and what it entails. I hope it’s not indicative of any sort of genetic shift, not a capability we are selecting for, but perhaps. The usual workaround we have employed, prior to adjusting our natures about it, perhaps has been simply to punt the kids back into the children’s group, send them off to school. Then the boys can teach one another to fight as always, and failing that, should it be necessary for the adults to intervene, they are unrelated professionals, also not biologically worried about hurting our kids.

In this way, we learn to fight, in this way we are harmed, scarred, and hardened for battle. Antisocialized.

There are class implications in the other sense too, rich and poor.

The kids sent the furthest, into the hands of the least caring, are the children of the richest and the poorest, aren’t they? Boarding schools in other countries for the richest and “Residential Schools” for the poorest, the north American aboriginals, sent a million miles from their families and culture. (If the phrase “Residential Schools” doesn’t register, Google it along with “Canada.”) The social science results are already in about the difference between being rich and “having problems” (generic “being antisocialized”) and being poor with problems. The rich have resources, buffers. A rich antisocialized criminal may get a friendly judge, a rehab program. A wealthy destroyed child can be hidden in the basement, whereas a poor one needs to get out there and get a job and find a whole lot more trouble.

An antisocialized would-be warrior who is poor and bound for gang life and prison perhaps, lives his life out in the subordinate social group, his antisocial crimes generally harming poor folks and not tolerated by the dominants and their police, while an antisocialized would-be warrior from a wealthy family may simply carry on his family’s predatory capitalism, even wars, and his crimes maintain his social group at the top of the order. Abuse all, inequality grows. All are abused, all are miserable – but some get to drive the bus and some do not. All are tossed into the sea; the rich can purchase water-wings.

 

Jeff

April 27th., 2019

Forgiveness VS Morality

Forgiveness is how you and I feel good, and it’s how our people never have to worry about goodness. I know the Hallmark/Psychology Today definition of forgiveness. It’s something like acceptance, at least acceptance is the component I agree about, it’s the good part, and the folk part of the theory is that we can have no peace without it – and you know what, bare-bones like that, if we say, no value judgments attached, I’ll agree also. But because all things can be judged this way, I will say: your sense of peace in this matter, while it may signify an alignment between your life and your predispositions, is only as objectively good as those predispositions, and when we find peace by accepting terrible crimes we are terrible people. If morality is defined by an attempt to lessen crime with punishments and deterrents, then forgiveness is morality’s very opposite, and the peace we feel is the freedom from the tension of moral strivings, acceptance of the world as it is, warts – and war – and all. And child abuse.

I sort of get we forgive a soldier, we ask them to murder, we already know they represent us, like it or not. But if the victims of extreme child abuse also need peace, eventually? The way we talk about it, the victim’s peace is on the other side of a wall and that wall is allowing whatever happened, albeit after the fact, so in what looks to me like a simple logical equation, a victim’s path to peace goes through accepting the crimes visited upon them, as though it were all fine and necessary if it had perhaps happened to someone else.

Which, of course, Chinatown calculation, game theory, Mafia-style logic, these days dragged into the sunlight for all to see and fear, is that’s how you win, by allowing your guys to do anything, anything at all. Those who will not use the carpet bombs or the landmines, or some plague are going to lose to those who will, if the police are bound by the law, the gangsters will win every time. So, forgive. It’s what Jesus would do for the war effort, isn’t it? Again, aside from that last ironic headbutt, it’s all very logical and if I wrapped it up here, I’d be one more evil evo-boy crowing macho from his bunker, this is what I was made for! All fine and good, can’t make an omelette without cracking a few eggs.

Again, if it were happening to someone else.

Of course it’s not just someone else. If it were just someone else, we wouldn’t have people to forgive personally, we wouldn’t have been taught to forgive, pretty much each and every last one of us.

Perhaps we think of forgiveness as the opposite of punishment, the opposite of retribution, and in a sense it is – but that does not indicate an inverse relationship between the two in a group or a society, it’s a direct one. The more rules there are means more things to punish and more things to forgive. The more punishments handed out, the stricter and more punitive the society, the more we must forgive the punishers; punishing is all fine and necessary. Of course the first person we ever have to forgive, and sometimes the last, is Mom or Dad, and the first crime we ever forgive is usually child abuse.

Well she is only three years old, and that’s a real fine way to start.

That’s badly out of context, but I can’t stop listening to Led Zeppelin these days.

But if she can forgive that, whatever it was, she is going to be a fearsome hominid. You want her on your side, because she will do anything, anything at all. Now blink once, she’s your mom, and you had better forgive her, because with that history, you don’t want her to be thinking of you as one of her problems.

Basically, I’ll believe there are peaceful religions when I see a peaceful society, but if my local church is going to forgive me no matter what I do, where is the pressure to behave? What selective forces are going to restrict crime, violence, and war when all is forgiven? It would seem that the idea of the Church as an opiate, pacifying the masses was a scientific blunder, that it is exactly the Church’s gift of forgiveness and acceptance of the warrior and warrior society that enables violence and chaos by restricting the society’s ability to punish and control its own worst elements. Again, too easy to see and say in Twenty-Nineteen, look what the evangelicals can apparently forgive.

We could forgive a little less, is all I’m saying.

 

Jeff

April 2nd., 2019

An additional verse for Ms. Rich Harris

From “The Nurture Assumption,” Judith Rich Harris (1998)

(working off of “This Be The Verse,” Philip Larkin, High Windows (1974) )

 

“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth

To hear your child make such a fuss.

It isn’t fair—it’s not the truth—

He’s fucked up, yes, but not by us.”

 

I have an additional verse for Ms. Rich Harris:

 

Unless, of course, no-one else will,

The masters or the kids at school,

When no-one else will fuck them up,

For that, the parents have the tool

 

 

Jeff

Jan. 29th., 2019

 

“This Be The Verse,” High Windows (1974) [April ? 1971]

 

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

They may not mean to, but they do.

They fill you with the faults they had

And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn

By fools in old-style hats and coats,

Who half the time were soppy-stern

And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.

It deepens like a coastal shelf.

Get out as early as you can,

And don’t have any kids yourself.