All Life

I think I made a case elsewhere, that if there is a market for testosterone, that if men generally support a market that says we are not manly enough and more manliness would be better, that this is a proof that we can think we are not naturally tough enough for this world and walk about in search of technological ways to enhance our “strength,” so I feel there can’t be much serious argument about the motivations for our social abuse; “strength” goes a long, long, way too long a way with us.

So where are we, we think we aren’t tough enough, we will acknowledge things we do to adjust our toughness upwardly, when any bad thing happens, if no other upside is to be found, there is always that adversity makes us stronger, and whatever does that has an upside, tougher is always apparently an upside. This applies to our controlling abuse as well, if you learned nothing from your spankings or your prison sentence, at least you are probably stronger, which again, how can stronger be a bad thing?

(Right? How can stronger criminals be a bad thing?)

So what I’m left with, the part that I haven’t gotten on record yet . . . is intent?

All this is true, but I sure didn’t have this plan, abuse for toughness and take it to my own kid, at least not on purpose! Somewhere between intent and context, maybe . . . but we don’t really credit any function that doesn’t have a goal. I worry that as long as we “didn’t mean to anything,” then it didn’t happen or something, I mean that’s the whole punishment to teach civilization argument already there, complete with the advantage of intent – not only did I not do it for that reason, but I have another reason, a good reason! I have a tough row to hoe, selling this. Semi-conscious beliefs are near impossible targets, how does that go? You can’t reason someone out of a belief they never reasoned themselves into?

Ha – you know you learned this one with a spanking, before you could read. Wait – what is EP’s “reason?”

Power, advantage, maximizing your resources . . . sinners, all of ‘em, except not, right? Ah! If it’s Rousseau, if we’re born good, then EP’s “reason” is simply wrong, and if the Rousseauvian side has a better answer for why the bad things happen, for the Hobbesian principle, then that’s a win, two to one. I mean, historically, we have a tie, right, Rousseau explains the good, we’re born that way and calls the bad “cultural,” –

– wait, I don’t know this for sure – he didn’t spell it out did he, didn’t say exactly how culture turns us to evil, did he? And if, so, he wasn’t right or anything, was he? I’m just saying, if he didn’t break it down like I think I have, then “culture” for me, is too big a word, so big as to be almost meaningless. If AST falls under it, I’ll take that back, but if it has to mean not biology I don’t see how it does –

– But born good “explains” the good, it’s in our genes, the kindness, the sharing, we’re a prosocial animal and leaves evil requiring an explanation, while on the other side, the Hobbesians posit greed and violence as the natural thing and suggest that goodness needs an explanation. Sounds like a tie, right?

LOL. Except. Except where does the invented thing, the not born that way thing come from then? We lay that out and things get clearer.

On the one hand, taking Rousseau into the present, psychology, both organized and naïve, what everyone knows pain feels like and does to people, this is at least my humanist explanation for evil – hurt, sort of an explanation and a definition all in one. On the other hand we got really moral because the boss is a cabal of murderous psychopaths and they ordered us to on threat of death, this, at least by this book, is evolutionary psychology’s explanation for morality. On the one hand, humanism and psychology, on the other hand, authoritarianism, fascism is morality.

Don’t get me wrong, my rap adds up to the same equation, except in reverse, “morality is fascism.” I don’t think they are saying they approve – although we do need to learn to rise above some limitation of language that always makes it sound like they do – they’re just saying that’s the way it is, cold science, except again, so cold that the well known effects of threat and abuse are ignored, they are only factored in as deterrents, their reality completely unaccounted for, again, I hit him but it didn’t hurt him, this lie at every level of human life. Is it really so unthinkable that we’re all hurting one another? Like, “net” hurting one another, that there is no alchemical reversal where hurt becomes growth? Isn’t it common knowledge that we’re all hurt?

Have you never heard of the blues?

“All life is sorrowful,” – does that not ring a bell?

“All are sinners?” “Life is pain, life is struggle . . . ” No?

All these well accepted truths exist for no reason and our science has no plans to test them and is in fact going the other direction apparently asking why are we so good instead? Why?

The idea that we are nurturing a gene suite for this lifestyle, abuse and war, suggests an interaction, genes and creating an environment to activate certain of them, an interaction and an adaptation that I think would be not unlike our selfish genes, safe from extinction (and God forbid, from evolution?), that any eugenic attempt to select this adaptation away fails as a part of the same conundrum Wrangham gives, that we can’t deselect the de-selectors, and so this adaptation is maybe impervious to genetic variation? . . . where I mean to go with this is perhaps his premise isn’t unassailable either, is it possible this adaptation wasn’t a matter of selecting anyone out at all? I mean, no-one thinks the bonobos went about executing their chimpanzees, do they? Are they short a gene from the chimps?

I don’t think he said anything about a genetic change to define us at his date, 300,000 years back, it was all skeletons and self-domestication! No gene change has to mean no selection, but no evidence doesn’t mean no change, ancient DNA isn’t common. I will pursue this, all may depend on it. First, I will search the book again.

I just cannot make these leaps, we got rid of the brutes, so that’s why we killed everything on the planet, again, WTF . . . I was so excited, now I’m basically calling it all rubbish, I should stop writing until a better mood takes me.

OK, no, not happening; I don’t think my mood about this is going to change, it hasn’t changed regarding the same meme in parenting which I’ve been battling for almost thirty years now, but I guess I’ll make a slight shift, stop saying EP is wrong, I think I see the powerlessness of that now, that it’s “right” if you come at it from authority’s side, that still today this is the dark side of psychology, that it’s not generally some helper trying it on you for your own benefit, but your boss, for his. In an upside down to me world, this is pretty much legitimate applied psychology, to analyze how rats and people move about under certain restrictions. Male and cold as it is, if you call this psychology, you can get it past most of these hominids, at least the males.

I would like to switch tactics and simply say, I have something to add.

I would say that along with forcing cost/benefit analyses, the threat and control of the leaders has other effects, negative feelings, that are the legitimate concern of psychology and have real effects in the world, and also even heritable genetic effects that make the patient’s psychology a moving target through time, and this is the magic of DNA is it not, that the same restrictions and stimuli placed on a different animal can produce different effects. One would think that adaptations are not stable, that as the animal makes it, the situation is altered.

Psychology is a human endeavor. It’s one thing when the presence of a bear forces a cost benefit decision from us, it’s another thing when a human being, that we can theoretically understand, does it. It gets psychological, complex. The power of the cousins both the cousins and EP would have you take as a condition of life, as immutable as needing air, as a stimulus and a condition for life, and frankly they don’t like you questioning them. Psychology starts just below them, they are not subject to police or psychologists.

And they sure don’t factor easing your pain into their plans.

All of them, every person I have read regarding human origins and human futures simply narrates. They’ve looked, they see what’s going on, look deeper, and come back saying, sorry, there’s nothing for it – but do buy my book with all the detail about how there’s nothing for it! I love some of these folks, but you are scientists, not news anchors, you’re supposed to be coming up with something to change the story, not just narrating the end for us, for God’s sake.

You know who doesn’t seem to want change, who doesn’t seem to be feeling the end of the world just yet – is the power, of course. The science, the gormless narration, it’s all paid by the power, no wonder they find no hope, no-one is paying them to find hope – and no surprise their psychology is top-down, business psychology, how to move these rats. So I would add the other half, the other side of psychology, victim psychology, the psychology of abuse and pain, and apply it to all concerned – the cousins, they too live under one another’s power and threat, they too are hurt – psychology 101, happy healthy people don’t need to dominate all they see. The pain of the elders is a huge factor in human affairs – and EP makes it sound like they’re all in paradise already, reaping all the benefits and paying no costs – it’s the American Dream, no need to analyze them.

You might think I’m off in space, but this is the very heart of matters, of all matters. It is true at the individual level, when I am trying to sort out the puzzle of the human being, that all the info I can find has this slant, authority over psychology, and to understand it I pretty much had to write my own book, but it’s true at the level of the tree of human knowledge also, that the branch of EP is a failed graft, an artificial branch with only the boss’ preferred knowledge flowing in and out of it and its foliage is all tainted and unhealthy.

Ha – sorry, Richard, not so much two kinds of aggression as two kinds of psychology, is what I’m seeing. And I’m taking your catchphrase, “proactive aggression,” you were wasting it on gang rule. Proactive aggression should mean “aggression that is managed, meaning created, collected, stored and dispensed proactively.” The good people of the world need this concept and gang rule doesn’t need a better sounding name.

 

Jeff

Aug. 1st., 2020

The Arc of the Universe/Capital Punishment

We are phasing out capital punishment.

Dr. Pinker and the entire world of humankind will tell you that’s a good sign. Guess what I’m gonna do?

In this old favourite of mine –

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/02/23/ast-and-child-sexual-abuse/

I try to make the case that if we have reduced child sexual abuse, that we didn’t really do that for what we would think of as moral or humanitarian reasons, not really, that in fact we traded in any possibility of the bonobo lifestyle in favour of that fabled Platonic essence, “aggression.”

Well, today is the going to be the same sort of ultra-depressing thing, same awful format. I am sorry. Would you really leave me alone with all these awful thoughts? Both of you? Ha.

The Goodness Paradox, chapter eight, Capital Punishment. It begins with an 1820 execution for property damage and notes that in most of the world you don’t die for that anymore, not legally, and the sentence that tweaked me was four pages in, after the tide turned on it, after a treatise, “On Crimes and Punishment, Cesare Beccaria, “Prisons then increasingly took over the responsibility for social control.”

Since then, we don’t select criminals out – we abuse them.

As I said, Dr. Pinker and the entire world is trying to sell this to one another as more moral, more humanist, a step along that arc to somewhere – abusing people. I heard the doctor is a doctor of some sort of psychology! In fact it was him got the Nurture Assumption published and promoted it and its central idea, that nurture is a myth and science doesn’t credit it, so he tacitly leaves the field to me to say abuse is not a myth and so this is his explanation why things are “getting better” – abuse. Control, I expect he’d rather say.

The point is, we say “social control” as if the opposite were the truth, as if we had any power to control anything in any direction other than to make it worse. “Social control” can only mean worse, by the doctor’s own cherished science. Sorry, I’m quoting one author and trashing another – honestly, I haven’t yet determined to be angry at Wrangham, it’s the longhair I’m after, the better natures guy – and EP generally, of course, which yes, means Wrangham too. I have plans to try to rehabilitate that one, though, he shows potential. Ha.

We are a warlike branch of primates that is learning not to execute its most warlike individuals, and not only that but to abuse them for years or decades before setting them free again – it is possible to see this and talk about it as though we were not minutes from solving it all. It is possible and entirely reasonable to see this as not at all the path to the utopia. All you have to do is stop expecting good things from abuse. You psychos. Sorry, outside voice?

So yes, we don’t sex our kids, we beat them, or turf them outside among the children’s gangs. Yes, we don’t execute our thieves, we confine and abuse them, damaging them further. Our entire species entire plan to solve crime is exactly every villain’s back story, but things are getting “better.” I understand he can make a case, he has numbers – does he have a reason? If he doesn’t have a better one than control, I can take no hope from him, I’m afraid. And I know, the scourge I blame we do not keep statistics for. Yet.

I know, it looks like a continuum, from verbal reproaches through spankings all the way to capital punishment and so if we stop going all the way to the end it’s an improvement, I heard that – but the whole spectrum does not move uniformly. Fewer executions does not mean fewer spankings or fewer reasons for reproaches. Fewer executions has not moved all of humanity towards gentleness, we keep applying the abuse to more and more, the fewer instances of imprisonment and such we may have expected if the entire board were moving have not materialized. If we really thought it was a continuum, then we would follow reducing executions with reducing incarcerations also, and then spankings. We reduced capital punishment, but I don’t think punishment generally is going away. I don’t imagine the numbers of people living in prisons is falling like the number of violent deaths is, is it, doctor?

OK, we’re stopping executions, that’s good. I’m just asking why, was it humanist all around, or, dark side, were we missing a chance to abuse them, and losing self-motivated soldiers, is that maybe why we did that instead.

We’ve just got it all backwards is all. We try harder than the chimpanzees do to be good, but our efforts cause world wars. If we hated bad behaviour a little less, we’d be a little less hateful, I think. You don’t take morality lessons from killers, I understand it, that the symbolism of capital punishment isn’t endearing – but no-one really takes morality lessons about stealing food from a guy who runs a prison either, that guy has clearly got it all ass backwards too, doesn’t he?

I have a dream that some day you’ll say yes.

 

Jeff

Aug. 1st., 2020

Why Human Nature Matters

I’m not sure it should; I mean, I’m not sure if it’s important that polar bears have some workable version of Polar Bear Nature to draw upon, most humans don’t think so, we think most creatures simply are what they are, they live, act, and respond. We don’t usually imagine that a bear or a deer or a barracuda compares itself to some idealized version of their species when they are making decisions.

I’m suggesting first, and in the interests of honesty rather than clarity, that many surely do have opinions about how they and others of their species should behave, but more to the point, that if one did imagine its nature completely upside-down and backwards, we might expect trouble. A species like that might stick out so starkly that it may not be the only species to think there is something different about it from all the others.

Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the damned Canada Geese, of course. Entitled, obtuse idiots. They think they’re canaries, always singing and landing on you and waving like in Snow White, except they only have one sour note and when they land on you it’s less of a wave and more of a fistfight.

I’m sorry – no wait. Maybe that’s not all bad. It’s a little like that, isn’t it?

Human nature is important because we’ll believe any lie that we think aligns with it. I’ll restart, but I had to get that down before I lost the idea.

Human nature is literally what we name the episteme  – the premise – we live under. People don’t like to be told they believe in any version of human nature, especially the Christian one, considering the rest of their story, their “cure” for your awful nature, but I’m starting to see that those sorts of details and rational concerns don’t matter, you don’t have to explicitly believe, maybe you don’t even have to tacitly accept it, do you? Even when you see the lie, there is still no other option anyway, “the cure” is in place, everywhere. It has the advantage of not only consensus, but a secret consensus, from which dissent is hardly possible. As I said recently, human nature is the end of the conversation, of every conversation that we allow to descend so far – bah! human nature.

If we buy the Nietzsche-Foucault idea of the episteme, does it mean we agree that different ages hold different ones? I don’t pretend to have read them, just because I presume to have some idea about them at all – did they preclude the idea of forever ones? I listened to that Foucault synopsis a few times, I sort of think he did, not sure about Nietzsche. I agree, forever is a long time, but I don’t think I’m onto one of a particular age, I would put AST as in place from at least today and back into prehistory somewhere. Perhaps “Christian original sin” would count as a premise for the post-classical age, but there is an underlying adaptation that predates it, isn’t there?

This is certainly a fine “first year” look at AST, that such a view, when codified and stated explicitly, came from Augustine et al and created the nightmare of Christendom for a thousand or two years, the Dark Ages, an age preserved most prolifically and poignantly in the numerous relics of torture and punitive devices. There’s another clarification I am going to require – did they say these premises were of our own devising? Certainly, they are limits upon the individual, and not of single origin, but do those fellows posit that “society” creates these parameters with any consciousness, or that societies are simply subject to them, to the unplanned unfolding of history?

I cannot get comfortable with “society,” the word, generally that’s true, but specifically here. I think I’m onto something that exists in all societies, or close enough, and “society,” firstly, sounds like othering, like it means “everyone around here except me,” but more importantly it’s still just too small, it’s not just everyone around here, it’s everyone. So.

Not individual, not societal, perhaps species wide. So, biology, then?

I’m not sure that there is the germ of this adaptation to be found observing primates, honestly. I see alphas, I see military hierarchies . . . there is even a germ of warfare. What I do not see is non-lethal abuse, child abuse.

I know, “childhood” is new, “parenting” as such is new, – always right on the button, aren’t we? How can there be child abuse when children weren’t invented yet? Ha. No corpse, no crime? Sorry.

Funny how things work, child abuse, pre-existing in the world, just waiting for children to be invented! Funny but “true.” Used to be, we beat little, recently created adults to work in the mines, because growth and development weren’t invented yet either, apparently. Or “It wasn’t me, the little buggers beat each other spare (the publisher’s ‘moral’ provided at the end of the Nurture Assumption)?” If children get abused, there is child abuse, we are sorting the abuse by victim type when we say that. Not vouching for it, but the description of the “aboriginal hunter gatherer group’s ‘children’s group’’’ was an abusive soldier factory where the boys either became fighters or were killed, weeded out of the tribe. I went to school, and this has the ring of truth to it for me, at least the core of it does. The presence of adults is not a requirement for children to be abused, any more than adults are proof against it.

I am convinced, that as far back as the anthropologists are tracking “social control” and the roots of law and civilization in humans and just a little further back yet, that this is how long we have thought that an abused human is a better human, that the two are two sides of the same coin, for the simple reason that the very first person to be controlled with abuse was also the first one to be pissed off about it and probably took it out on someone. More to the larger point of AST, perhaps they were well controlled and did not immediately take it out baboon style on some undeserving underling, perhaps they suppressed those feelings and waited for someone to break a rule, or for a war to break out to express them.

It’s a little more than perhaps, you put it that way, isn’t it?

In the interests of satisfying an obsolete urge, to define humans, human nature, I am suggesting that the delayed gratification of these negative feelings it what defines us. This is AST, the creation and storage, by our group, of pain and hurt, to be used in a directed manner, for our group conflict.

Sure, the church tries to replace the alpha with an abstract one and they try to make themselves the reason the sun rises and the reason humankind requires abuse. They put their holidays over older holidays and rebrand everything, but a spanking or a beating by any other name would hurt just as sweetly, no? Of course, near eternal institutions like the church have their finger on something basic, something biological, and so they give it their own name and declare it to have been recently created by their replacement alpha.

I’ve said elsewhere, Mom says she went up the side of your head to teach you not to track mud into her clean house and all things refined and civilized like that, while Dad makes the counterpoint that that may or may not be the case and Mom may or may not be being fair about this instance of your misbehaviour, but that him beating your ass will “toughen you up” and that’s the positive thing he takes from the whole affair. He could well be saving your life in some future altercation, indeed saving the family, the tribe in future skirmishes. I consider this a fun little anecdote, but perhaps I haven’t made it clear why it’s always there for me, so here:

Two completely different “reasons” that are actually in conflict – Mom says soft and Dad says hard – same behaviour, kids get punished, read “hurt.” For me, this is proof that the behaviour persists, even if the explanation is completely wrong – two men say they’re Jesus; one of ‘em must be wrong, right – except both of their houses are full and not just every Sunday, but all week. For the record, Mom’s lying about what it does, Dad’s telling the truth about that. For full disclosure, Dad’s full of it that weakness is a problem and toughness is an answer. His answer is humanity’s whole problem.

Mom’s idea of human nature seems to be, born messy and wild, and she has her cure, the father, the switch , and the woodshed.

Dad’s idea of human nature is, born weak and vulnerable, and he has his cure, the switch and the woodshed.

Isn’t it admirable, this quest of personal discovery, us trying to glean our true natures and intended purpose so we can cure it. That is the part of that sentence I would have you notice – we supposedly differ about our natures, but still we have a plan. Again, always, “nature” in this sense is an innateness argument, religious and absolutist. The point of life, of living and evolution, is not some static nature but of adaptation, of struggle and striving, of becoming . . .

. . . so your plan is your nature. You are what you are trying to be – that is evolution. Where all your effort goes – that is who, or what you are.

The entire point of evolution is that the past didn’t work, that it wasn’t working, so the past is absolutely, one hundred percent, exactly the only place that answers to our problems are not going to be found.

The whole point of every selective situation is that a new way needs to be found, isn’t it? I hope we haven’t missed it, but I think this was one such situation.

 

 

 

Jeff

May 19th., 2020

The Fight

“Just once, can’t we try something else?”

Spoiler alert, re: The Expanse. Sorry.

I was shocked when this line was spoken in the final episode of the first iteration of The Expanse. That author and I are on the same page. Those eight words are the eight I have managed leave out of my last million or so, at least with such clarity. My cap is off for the person who said that. That is pretty much everything, those words; to me, at least. Still under the spoiler alert, “something else” meant something else besides attack, something else besides a fight.

Just once! We might like it! You never know until you try.

Everything is a fight.

We got ninety-nine problems, and a fight is every one of them, but we can’t fight the fighting. If we don’t pick a side, they all need to fight us. If we ask them not to fight, we’re working for the other side; art of war, warrior code says we must be treated as such. It’s a fractal of paranoia, and in fascist or authoritarian times the fighting side of life feeds back on itself and it gets away from us, closer and closer people start to qualify as enemies and there is less and less room to do anything else except fight. In more balanced times, though, still, everything is a fight, and fight is all we know how to do. Pick an issue, any issue – air pollution, climate change.

If I’m a driver, if I trade petroleum for wages, I’m invested in air pollution, it feeds my children, I love my children, etc., if I own the oil company, I will probably choose to say it’s the same, feeds my kids (and great grand-kids). So when I see the protesters, a blockade, I am threatened, my kids are threatened. The protesters are trying to show me a problem – the climate, the environment – but I, human being who evolved for nothing but a fight, only see the protester. Humans are what we have evolved to fight, not accumulations of toxins and such. It’s clear, seemingly, it’s right in front of you – generally, forever, a bunch of humans is often as not, everybody’s worst nightmare. I’m suggesting, in this much, some of the EP, game theory stuff is not all wrong, and we have probably evolved always knowing our priority problem is that bunch of people shouting at us. Today’s problem over tomorrow’s, kind of thing, but not only that.

As for the oil execs, CEOs – the guy owns the world, he’s still looking for a fight, fighting his enemies – poor environmental protesters! Or worse, the indigenous, poor environmental protesters with nowhere else to go! – still seems like his job to him, not just a privilege, but an obligation, “for his children,” – evolution didn’t account for his wealth. If he can convince himself there’s a threat, then it’s just a human fight, team suit and team tie-dye, right? Again, if he “feels threatened,” he’s lying – but maybe his drivers, etc., feel threatened for real, wage dependent and all, and they also being human, when under threat, tend to focus on the human threat in front of them first – so tensions are highest among the poorest, at the blockade.

Of course, the protesters too all share this evolution and are all subject to and sometimes guilty of this . . . conflation also, of conflating the problem with the people in front of them. Sure, the driver is “part of the problem” and the CEO is not there to take the abuse, but the driver’s share of actual responsibility in the matter is less than almost anything that might happen to him should an actual fight break out – “part” is a word we use to create conflations and start fights, as all “parts” are not equal but share the same name. Of course if our driver wins his portion of the battle, that too is a step of violence above his pay scale and previous share of the responsibility, he’s a bigger part of the problem if he fights and makes himself one.

I think our dedication to fighting creates all sorts of conflations, the purpose of which seems to be to convert logical problems into fights, words into actions instead (see also in my blog, this same function in regard to conspiracy theories, to turn what should be a public debate into a fight).

In ways like this, every issue, everything that should be a rational debate, a discussion about the way for humanity to move forward, becomes an argument, a scuffle, a riot, a fight, clashes of ideas descend into clashes of the groups of people who hold these ideas instead. One faction wants war, one wants peace – so now we have a civil war! Warriors VS the peaceniks, team crew-cut VS team tie-dye – when a man’s blood is up, and you say “I don’t want to fight,” he says, “Oh yeah? You wanna fight about it?” And you should probably get ready.

Come to think of it, sounds like one of my exes too, so, fighters of both of the classic big two genders do that, so I assume it’s a “fighter” thing, not a gender thing, and this bit of science predicts that none of the less obvious genders are free of this conundrum either. If we can’t oppose the fighting, the fighting, no matter which human triumphs, the fighting always wins. This is not an endorsement.

I’m sick about it. I hate. It’s always going to be the wrong person.

I’m talking about evolution and evolved things, but this is not offered as “proof” that this is simply who we are – that would be deterministic, a creationist view, “the way we’re made,” another conflation, not as foundational as the main one here, but not small. No, evolution means once it’s not advantageous, we evolve in the other direction. The selective forces are us, we control that. We could select for something else. More evolution, not less, is what is indicated. But we need to stop always selecting first for the fight.

I don’t want to fight. I want to argue. I want words to matter when they approach reality and matter less when they stray from it. If this had been the case up until now, we wouldn’t have soiled the bed so badly, “accidentally” destroyed our environment. I know that sounds obvious, too obvious to say, but I tell you here and now, in my experience, people do not grasp that, people do not seem to understand when we wish to argue with them. They either cannot imagine a different viewpoint or something and assume we’re all in agreement, or they understand there is a disagreement and get ready for a fight – and accuse one another of “fighting,” like there is no room between disagreement and battle, no freedom. “Friends” agree, apparently, they do not try to teach each other. I want what is true and correct to win in the world, we require a “tournament of truth,”  not the usual, literal kind of tournament, but there is something else we are selecting ourselves for, rational debate remains a sort of pipe dream. The person who wins the fight wins the argument, because we think fighting is more important than truth and reality.

Or the swine who wins the fights thinks so, and we must all agree or suffer his purges.

This morning I am seeing what some philosophers have, that without power, words are nothing, that without power, there is no voice, I see it – I see a blue sky too, but I know it is not a real, discrete thing; I don’t believe in it. It must have been Nietzsche most famously, right? Warrior societies have a way of making their awful maxims come true. If the people in charge didn’t believe and push it, it wouldn’t be true. Wait – “without power” – like having power over others is some normal, default condition and it’s our fault if we didn’t take our share, that’s no way to talk. Well, it’s one way, one awfully specific way to talk, fascistese, or baboonese, depending how you look at things, “taking power,” or deflecting abuse.

I look at it as deflecting abuse – but it is not the baboons that need to be corrected about their worldviews.

It’s more direct to say it in inverse, and they do: with power, you can lie and they have to accept it. Of course this is the current figurehead, of course if he were powerless no-one would believe a word and he’d be homeless or institutionalized. Or he’d change his ways, maybe.

I’m finding it stupid that we can apply these brains to amazing levels of chemistry and physics, etc., but are still possessed of no self control, still basically preverbal about what it is we’re up to in the world. We can get you to the bloody moon but we can’t stop ourselves from eating the seed corn. We have burned the planet, used anything and everything for our conflicts, split the atom for our conflicts, every new thing in the world is created or assimilated for the conflicts . . . but we still love the conflicts.

Ask a scientist what made us so smart, what with all this math and such, and they’ll tell you – the conflicts!

Right, destroyed the only environment doing this thing that makes you so smart, don’t you all just feel the truth of it in your bones – fights and threats and abuse and war and persecution just making you smarter and better all day long? How many millennia? We will surely reach some intellectual singularity any minute, as long as we stay the course and don’t let up now! Not just “smart,” either. Made us super moral and altruistic too, apparently!

Never mind “altruism” is defined as conspiracy for gang murder, as volunteering for some risk in order to reduce the risk of all the conspirators. Sometimes a science requires its own specialized language, huh.

I’m getting angry about the narrative, does it show? Everything is awful in this paradigm, and the “thinkers” this narrative credits are as responsible for our ongoing false state of original sin, as much as are the famous conquerors it lauds, or blames, depending on the work. If it suborns itself to the fight, it’s with the fighters. Everything and everyone within the paradigm/episteme/this side of the deconstructionist horizon, however you look at that situation where you can’t think that from here.

I saw the bare bones principle of it as a young person, that language could not add truth to the world, only approach it, and so the function of language must be to introduce errors, fictions, distortions, lies, at least one function of it. I try very hard not to lie in these ramblings, I feel I’ve typed a million words that can only be wrong, by “design,” sort of, limits of language, but are designed to get us all to a truth, to describe the shape of it with a barrage of near misses, like throwing paint at some invisible monster when you don’t even know its scope, where to aim the paint.

If I seem not to be saying anything at all sometimes, that seems the preferable mistake to me, to saying too much and accidentally lying.

The world has not been destroyed “for money,” money is an abstraction for a fight, for the ability to win a fight, or “power,” I guess. Resources. Food for your army. All the great nations’ rich have money already, but life is problems and problems are fights – you’ve heard the rhetoric of the rich: if there’s no enemy and no fight, you’re “not doing anything.” I have read in the world of aging male punditry on this topic that men will go on the war march from boredom, or from a desire for glory and honour, and I rejected it as rubbish, biology requires better explanations – but perhaps it only needed this bit of nuance, that rich men send poor ones to war for boredom, or honour or glory – this I can manage to cram into my head without too much trouble. Still, the biology is probably the more important, and since the fight is what we’ve all evolved with, rich or not, safe or not, he may only feel like he’s “doing something” when he’s got someone to fight, whether “glory” is in his lexicon or not.

The very existence of rhetoric proves we’re bent in one direction, you say something general and you know they will all understand something specific, it proves the supremacy of the fight over  our minds, over truth and with little concern as to the actual content in question, it proves what I said at the outset here, that we are biased to deal with all problems as though they can be solved by a battle with the people in front of us. I think it was Larsonius? “Shake the jar and see if they’ll fight”? Come on, the man is a classic, and wise beyond this age.

Imagine the power of this, if you knew this and had the power to move people about, to decide who winds up in whose face. Imagine the awful power of that.

We are letting this happen, making it happen, we are selecting for it – because evolution, everything is selected for. There is no credible argument that “human nature” is not selected for and what is the argument that something other than ourselves are making the selections? The only wrinkle is, there is the not small matter of knowledge, of what is knowable, of what we want to know, of what is conscious and what less so. I don’t think anyone seriously points to other selective forces besides ourselves, except perhaps our microbes, which, I think we have to own that, that counts as us, part of us, sure, on the less conscious side. Seriously, that’s something remarkable, so I will – the only possible opposing “selective force” we are “subject to,” or blaming here if it isn’t us is the bronze age God. At least the version of human nature he came with.

Sorry, but what else? It looks like maybe only the first phase of introducing evolution to an evolved-for-religion audience. We know it exists, but we still think the other thing does too.

This innateness, all the EP, all this biology that says we’re so moral one minute and worse than the chimpanzees the next, the selective forces are what? The battles, the same thing that grew that cranium? Do I need to say it? Yes, I need to say it – the conflicts, that was us, more importantly, that is us. Evolution isn’t something that happened in the Before Time and doesn’t happen anymore, nor is it something that happened to “someone else.” It’s an erroneous conclusion that I used to parrot myself, that when we brought the environment under our control, evolution stopped – maybe “natural” selection stopped, but natural or organic isn’t the point – selection doesn’t stop, does it?

I can’t be breaking this news, that if we are still breeding and dying in any particular way that selection is still occurring for us?

In fact, perhaps my whole theory could be called the Problem of Unnatural Selection. We’ve been the main force on ourselves for quite awhile already, I do think of it that way, this is exactly what I’m saying, we need to stop unnaturally selecting for a thing or two. I mean, I’m advocating for a change in our unnatural selection criteria. I think our criteria that helps us survive one another is ending by killing us all together, that we select for the fight and we’ve burned the planet down for materials for our weapons, for the war effort.

You are the only selective force I am subject to, and vice versa.

I know that we are talking about that, we are starting to talk about our infantile looking skeletons and talking about self-domestication – add it to my list: all that conflict made us brilliant, moral – and tame, docile. New angle, same paradigm, please, tell us again just what is so darned right about us, won’t you?

Such a moral and altruistic surprise that in a world supposedly dominated by evolutionary science, it just becomes the new way we were “created,” and we still are not expected to be responsible for our own natures. I suppose it will take a few hundred more years for evolution to really sink in, as I’ve suggested already.

I kid, or I lie; I don’t think time will solve this one, or it should have by now, we are not brand new and shiny – plus we are out of time anyway. I think it’s one of those things we don’t want to know. Worse, we think our damned lives depend on not knowing it, as everything anyone gets paid for is some fractal of the fight – market economy lists “competition” as a virtue, it’s only a synonym for “fight,” some might say that is a description of anarchy, no system at all – and if your job wasn’t evil and dangerous, they wouldn’t have to pay you to do it. We are all that fellow who can never understand due to his employment, unfortunately.

At some point, some of us got some time to think and take up other hobbies like that, they say, but work, serious business has always been a fight. This has been true to date, and yes, a self-fulfilling sort of truth, but I worry that we are missing an opportunity to get past it, an opportunity we have always had and always missed to get beyond it, to be sure, but then we always had another generation, another century, the endless future before us, and it’s always been like the best part of the dinner that we’ve been saving for last. It seemed like we would get there some day, that there was always something to hope for.

But now that it seems like now or never, now that time is not on our side – time is evolution’s friend – now it seems still rather far off. Twenty generations ago would have been best, to adapt a proverb, but there’s my answer, that proverb addresses exactly this point, hope. Things always look  their worst when we conflate the present with the end of history, or the end of time – but now is good too. Now is always good too.

Deep breaths.

 

Jeff

April 17th., 2020

Reading List

Don’t be giving me reading. First of all, we just met. Why is it your first assumption that I know nothing? Also, it’s particularly dull if what you know I don’t know just happens to be the subject of your own books! Ha.

I’ll be sixty soon, and I’ve never been any good at anything but dreaming, which means I’ve had a lot of practice. More and more, whatever it is you think I need to learn, I’m way past it. I haven’t learned most of it – only enough to know there’s not a lot of meaning in it. I didn’t miss all the normal ideas, this idea always amazes and amuses me – what planet do some folks think I’m from, that I’ve never heard of punishment, of “teaching right from wrong?” No such human exists, not on this planet! I didn’t miss those lessons, no-one does, I simply don’t believe it, I just flat out disagree – an apparently impossible position, to many of us. I’m trying to dispute those things, trying to take away what you probably have always considered to be your “givens.”

Honestly, I think they give me reading because they think I’m in agreement and want to learn more! There was a Kids in the Hall sketch, Thompson, I think, as a guy in a bar looking for a fight, but somehow can’t manage to piss anyone off, can’t buy a fight – KITH was surreal as well as hilarious – and that’s me, cannot buy an argument, I have offered money, only a few hundred per hour, sure, but . . . to them it’s like I want to argue with oxygen, money wouldn’t make sense of it. I get that part.

We’re at something like a standoff. I’m trying to tell them they’ve missed everything and they’re telling me I’ve missed some . . . some what? Some detail of chimpanzee life? Some allele? The part where Mom explains to me that this is actually good for me, folks, that’s what I “missed,” that’s what you need to defend if you want to dispense with me.

If this is a given for you, punishments made us “good,” if these are the unassailable roots of your philosophy, I’m past that, past your roots, I don’t need more of your leaves or flowers. Moreover, if all you can do is list books and authors full of nothing but such foliage and not share or discuss the ideas therein with me, one, again, why are you assuming the teaching position? And two, it sort of suggests that you didn’t find any meaning in it either. So again, why?

I’m tired.

The world is full of people who want to tell you things whether they know anything or not. I try to talk tough and authoritative here, but I’ve been rather passive in life, basically taking that thought internally, acting as though I am most likely just one more loudmouth with no more wisdom than anyone else and so not forcing myself on anyone. The entire world did not reciprocate, but whaddayagonnado.

I am starting to see that my ideas are on the better side of quality ideas and that I’ve been shirking my responsibility, however, allowing lesser but more aggressive ideas to dominate. The Dunning-Kruger effect is like gravity, there is no real escape. It has the advantage of consensus. You only get what you settle for, and I’ve always been stuck in this problem – how to get what I want, when what I want is to not have to fight for everything? When my project is to break the dominance of the world’s fighters and establish an empire of reason?

And that Brutus guy said Caesar was ambitious, huh! This is my project, to change the world and not resort to a fight to do it, because then I’ve lost before it begins, same as every revolutionary ever. Next thing I’d be shopping for a strongman, meet the new boss, same as the old boss, world without end . . . except the end is in sight these days. I think I may have always sort of imagined the project of humanity to be just that, that that is what “human progress” was supposed to mean, an empire of reason, no? Just me?

Education is the cure, sure – but discipline is the cause. “Morality” – discipline, punishment, group social control, law – is the cause.

That’s not “talking,” that’s fighting. The fighters of the world are in charge because we’re all engaged in these fights, because in this paradigm, even in peacetime, the fight never ends, and everyone is involved – it’s been socialized. Education would be part of a better world, absolutely, but my point here for everyone is that we are not going to change the world by simply adding some better things and not removing the cause.

Fundamentalist “morality” is a great example of all the awful things we call morality, authority and/or authoritarianism of men, violent and harsh punishments, many restrictive laws, social control of women and children – and contrary to many believers’ “beliefs” these days, “fundamental” means its usual, normal thing here: what it’s all based on. Morality, in speech and scripture is some lofty ideal, but this is what it is down here on Earth, between human beings, it means the ritualized, sanctified practice of applied abuse. Educate me after and during that, sure, it couldn’t hurt, mostly, but it doesn’t make all that OK.

But that’s what every authority figure or teacher on Earth would have us all pretend, isn’t it? All of that is regrettable and sad, sure, but as long as you learn your lessons! Maybe you’ll be the generation that changes the world! Maya, the world of illusion. Of course, professor, no, I don’t think you’re lying to yourself and me and wasting all of our lives, and yes I do need an extension for my paper, if you please!

So, if you know of something I can read, someone out here ahead of me that I can learn from, someone whose answer for everything isn’t a deterrent or a law or a fight or a political or economic system or a new set of rules that we need to enforce, sure, talk to me. It’s COVID-19 lock-down time, I would purchase something to read if I could imagine something that would help but I’m stuck writing because the only writer of which I am aware that can satisfy my need for what I now see as reality, is me.

I know there’s plenty of stuff that rebels against Judeo-Christian morality, and no doubt plenty that critiques collectivist morality and every other sort too, but social control in general? Not saying there’s no reason for a dearth of literature “against morality,” reasons abound – I just think we’ve made an awful mess of things and we need to review our reasons, make adjustments. Also, there is some of this sort of talk in Buddhism, religion tries – or perhaps monastic life is a sort of a shunt, removing such introspection from the social mainstream. Plus there’s the odd one like the Marquis de Sade, not examples that seem to help the cause, perhaps.

R.D. Laing must be one too, but it didn’t seem to have been the point of the ones I read. Maybe, maybe I just wasn’t there yet.

You want to be with the weirdos on these subjects, popular ideas are clearly not working, clearly what is popular is what we are trying presently! I would direct you back to the beginning of this conversation, maybe you weren’t here yet, where I said things are not alright, otherwise I’d smile more and maybe even shut up once in a while.

Iain McGilchrist, author of The Divided Brain, said it, that our social control measures stress us out and engage our autonomic response that puts our left hemisphere in the driver’s seat, attenuating or overriding the right brain’s “big picture” function. He seems to be a rare case like myself, a person who simply followed a train of thought and let logic and reason take him where it would, and if it exposes our law and order as the cause of our troubles, he’ll tell you so too.

Now, I understand that there is a whole world full of literature and thought out there about how we’re civilized and controlled and altruistic and domesticated and educated and all that and the other side of that meme debate is we are still wild apes, still that creature that we and the chimpanzees were five million years ago, still with all that aggression and those drives and all that, I am aware of this dichotomy, if it deserves such a clear description.

It’s a false binary. In the first, the control worked, we’re all good now – so I guess the previous century of world wars didn’t happen or the present nightmares either. In the second, apparently evolution is a conscious, constant, minute to minute struggle like treading water and millions of years just disappear when a fight breaks out, as though when the whole world evolved, of the millions of things, only this one ape’s urge to fight did not. We don’t really use that gene or something, and when we “need” to fight, we bring it out of the closet, like that?

We’ve evolved when we want to say so and we haven’t when we’d rather say that is more like it, and again, on the dull and predictable side, wouldn’t you say. “We’re all good now” – I hear it like I hear “I was spanked and I’m fine,” and that’s exactly how we should all hear that. You have huge wars constantly. You’ve destroyed the Earth. You are not fine.

And by coincidence I’m sure, you are the only “moral” creature, the only creature who thinks abuse and pain are “good for you.”

 

 

Jeff

March 28th., 2020

Secrets

All your efforts are doomed, I’m sorry.

You’ve got it all backwards – I mean, a lot of us don’t have any version of it at all, but those who think they do, even those who have looked deeply and found the buried “truth,” I’m sorry, you’ve got it all backwards.

The best thinkers of the past, the ones who saw through the common sense of their times and places, yes, even them too. Of course, that’s who we’ve all been listening to and following, no-one is listing history’s worst minds as their influences, are they, and this is the world we have, so this is obvious.* Humankind has it backwards. It’s clear there is some basic assumption, probably more than one, that we simply have wrong, because all our great ideas turn to crap, and I mean communism and capitalism alike, as well as everything else, ether side of almost every issue. The great dichotomies are a ruse, the meaningful thing is not the difference or the dividing line in almost every case. More often the meaning and the power is in what is common between them.

I don’t want to lie and boast and say Only I can fix it. Of course I can’t fix it. All I’m saying is, I seem to be the only one that can even see it.

An example anyone can see, “Communist” Russia under Stalin VS Capitalist America under Trump. Two leaders of utterly incompatible economic systems? Does that seem relevant? Or two fairly identical alpha chimp dictators atop oligarchies, killing their own people? ToMAYto, toMAHto?

Everything we try turns to crap because of that alpha, of course, because of the chimpanzee hierarchical system we all live under. Both systems were conceived as attempts to control the alpha swine, democracy, communism, both were attempts to replace the alpha with a “reasonable senate of men” – betas and on down, I think we should read – and in both our examples they failed and we’ve reverted, allowed the alpha to re-establish himself.

That was an example, this isn’t the cause yet.

The example that sat me down this time was the internet, I had Niall Ferguson’s series on the TV, and I was reminded of what a democratizing force the web was supposed to be, all of humanity’s information at your fingertips (saw some McLuhan recently too) – and the reality is it’s an endless sea of ads and corporate interests, any egalitarianism carefully pared away and in the end it’s a mind control tool and misinformation enjoys the environment far more than real information does. Everything we try.

Communism, Capitalism, the internet – what else?

Religion? OK then, having exhausted that subject by mentioning it – again, like Dawkins’ maxim, we all agree everybody else’s religion has turned to crap out in the world, all of them but one, at least. Then just all of them for some of us.

Our incorrect assumption seems to be as basic as it could possibly be – good for bad, “literally,” if that weren’t an ironic and impossible attribute for that. I mean to say, I’m serious, our mistake is that basic, that foundational for our, I think this word may have to change, but for now – for our morality. Again, serious.

Many modern thinkers have caught onto that we are not conscious in all we say and do, and the unconscious has been named and mapped for ages before Freud and internal cosmologies like his can be useful sorts of metaphors, but really the details of these fictional or mythical landscapes aren’t the point, same as above, the point should be simpler, the point is simply determining what is good and bad. Freud and Augustine share a position regarding this, and that commonality is the salient thing about what they thought, not the vastly different cosmologies they each ascribed to. Neither Freud, Darwin, or anyone else has seriously differed with Paul and Augustine on this judgement, as far as I’ve been able to glean. (I, however, do. Seriously.)

People are bad and they do what they do to get better.

That’s our foundational myth and of course that’s the problem. We tend to assume our plans are supposed to make things better, we assume we have some power to make things better. It’s always a surprise when it fails, glass half full types that we stubbornly are about it! We can’t seem to imagine that the opposite might be true, that we weren’t so bad to begin with and that it is exactly our efforts that are bad, that it’s what we do that is so bad.

People are bad and they do what they do to get better. Did you buy it, will you allow that this is our idea? Careful, it’s a trap! I do think we hold that dear, but how could you after this – what is it about us that is “bad” or “good” if not what we do? What would it mean that we “are bad” if we say, did nothing?  What would it mean that we “are bad” if what we did “was good?” When evil happens, this is offered as some kind of proof, look how bad we “are,” and first of all this is all passive voice nonsense – really? Because somebody or everybody “is” bad? Did nobody do anything?

The bots on Twitter gave me a clue. You read it long enough, you start to think nobody on Twitter has ever heard of an evil motive – “Why would Dr. Mengele do THAT?” sort of thing, leveraging an assumption we all share that humans want to good and that no-one wants to do evil – to hide the evil intent, of course. We all have that positive sort of blind spot. No-one thinks about original sin, I know, but I swear, it’s behind everything, not with any Christian or Biblical details, I don’t mean that, I just mean the basic assumption it reflects, that we’re born bad and our interventions make us better.

You don’t have to know Augustine, you don’t have to be a Christian to spank your children, I’m pretty sure all human beings have this basic idea and this basic behaviour. Perhaps every religion has some meme that they alone know how to “raise children,” that non-believers fail in this responsibility – well, more than perhaps.

Let’s flip it over.

If we had the right model, would our interventions not then, uh . . . work? Wouldn’t you not expect to be continually surprised and disappointed? When nothing works, we change the model, I mean, in other contexts we do.

People are good and they do what they do to get worse. Not “on purpose,” as such, but we do.

I want to stop and just ask you, beg you – try that meme on. Play at looking at the world that way. It’s much better for us all that you are convinced by your own eyes, not mine or anyone else’s. Imagine what the world would look like if abuse, normal and expected or otherwise didn’t “make you good” at all, but the very opposite. Imagine that the world is unequal and unfair, but in this specific way, that abuse and rewards are not equal and opposite in that rewards do not change you and abuse does not change you for the “better.”

Be forewarned, though.

It’s a better fit, more things will make sense, but the truth is a bit nastier than the lie, fixing anything seems less like a fifty-fifty proposition and more like a very narrow path indeed. The light I posit and the end of the tunnel is real, but it is very far off, especially right now, here in this year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and forty.

 

Jeff

March 20th., 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

*This, in other conversations of mine, is a massive load of bullshit, how many times have I said that in regard to human matters like children, that we all, even judges and doctors and anthropologists, listen to Ma and Pa, and how they are indeed perhaps closer to the second group, intellectually speaking.

But in terms of who those same professionals SAY they listen to . . .

The Invisible Monster

I groped around some in the darkness. It’s tough. I honestly don’t know how anyone begins, how do we even figure out what questions to ask; any question we ask is going to be met with some answer, anything can look like we’ve made some kind of a start. Next thing we know, we’ve been on some tangent and we’re old, the questions have faded and the answers have taken over and if they’re not working then maybe they need a champion, perhaps it’s a fight rather than a Q & A or maybe we’ve just had our try and we retire.

I have this rap, “I asked this question as a child,” and yes I can weave that narrative now, but that didn’t begin to come clear until around the time of my first child’s birth, age thirty-five or so. In my teens and twenties, I was that clueless seeker, read something from the hippies’ spiritual library, Ouspensky, Gurdjieff, some yoga. That stuff led me to try philosophy, I still have my copy of Kant’s Critique, and I’ve put a good dent in it a few times – I really should finish it, the first third of that book has stuck with me, it was good stuff in there, more so than a great deal of philosophy, I think.

Because it’s a critique, I think.

So then I went off and lived a life, had a marriage, raised some kids.

I read some psychology heading into that, tried some R. D. Laing, not easier than Kant, I won’t pretend to have absorbed him either, but a few things. I learned about shadow selves, repression, got taken with an Alice Miller book or two. A lot of overviews, “History of (western) Thought” stuff, our progress narrative. When I tried to learn some biology, I wound up in the library of the alt-Right, I guess, Pinker et al. – I came out of that focused on evolution, trying to ignore their conclusions and drawing my own. Their conclusions are so bereft of meaning, it sent me running back to philosophy!

These days I’ve been trying to absorb some classics, but one such history has reached modern times and I’ve had an introduction to Foucault, and now a short summary audio book I’m on my second pass through. He was very concerned about his identity, that he wasn’t a philosopher as such – it’s a very narrow discipline in some senses – and at one point he settled on “critical intellectual,” because his work was analyzing and troubleshooting existing systems, not so much designing new systems from scratch or whatever it is proper philosophers do.

Seems he was a stickler for those sorts of definitions and perhaps an authority, and he was quite expansive about how to define “author” and an author’s relationship to their society, so I got to thinking that “critical intellectual” surely has a known and understood role in society as well, that we know how to respond to them.

I also learned something personal listening to his ideas.

Critical intellectuals really get on your bloody nerves, that’s how we respond to them! Plus also I am one of the bastards. I listened to his ideas and found myself trying to pick them apart, it’s what I do. Of course it’s an easy matter, decades later, speaking from a world that Foucault’s ideas very much helped to create, of course we’ve moved beyond him and anyone can do that looking back, he said this, I’m sure.

But I noticed it, the irony was a little too on the nose, noticed that this is the role I have adopted and so I noticed that the response I get is also part of a role or roles, perhaps not scripted, maybe only a familiar mode of interaction . . . well, Foucault may have settled on it, it was the truest option for him, I guess.

It’s true for me as a character trait; it’s not really true about my work. My critiques come from a new design.

New designs are not expected, perhaps not possible, from critics, is that it? Is this my mistake, I start by announcing Nothing New Here and then Here’s My New Thing! I may have to ch . . . I may have to ch . . . cha . . . oh, you know what I mean.

Of course I should read the prison one, of course a summary of critiques is going to get tiresome – I should read one of his in long form, hear and enjoy his voice in a thorough treatment, not just a list of complaints. I should very much also write one of mine in long form, stop giving nothing but a list of complaints myself. The previous sentence, this I say as a reader. The response I gave Foucault’s list of ideas – Oh, FFS, sort of –  is the response I think I get from folks, and that makes perfect sense to me.

Y’all wrong, of course.

Not about me! I am exactly that rock in everyone’s shoe, I know that. You’re wrong if you think what I’m trying to say is only critique, though. At least as regards my main subject.

One cannot say this, I know that. It’s unlikely in the extreme, I know this, it’s flat-out impossible, I know this – but I’m better than him. I just got lucky, sure, but that counts too. He’s smarter than me in every way, these guys are bloody polymaths, they got fifty points on me all day long and I got exactly nothing to show, never lived above a hundred points, for all you’d have seen, what can I say? Murphy’s Law, goes to show you never can tell.

Record scratch, freeze frame, restart. Making that case is going to take a minute.

They are all fighting some invisible monster, and by “they,” I mean “we,” except that in this, your narrator would exempt himself from humankind. This thought has been brewing for a long time.

By “they,” I mean philosophers, authors, yes, and also scientists (nobody says “I’m a scientist,” like Quincy M.D., I know), artists, basically anyone attempting to interact with humanity or life itself, anyone trying to solve the problem of humankind, or even artists, students of human nature who try to soothe this savage breast with beauty. They all work off of some great, vague antagonist, some central problem with so many names as to be nameless and so many features as to be non-existent, not optional enough to name or talk about. Many concepts approach, many ideas at least partially succeed in pointing us to it.

Oh Gawd, here it comes, yes, I’m going to say the words, I promise to try really hard not go down my usual rabbit hole here, or at least keep it short. If I fail, I’ll see you on the other side?

(Spoiler alert, I did not fail!)

One such attempt to define this thing we call Christian original sin, perhaps non-Christian societies have an analogue, the idea that we are born a sort of “bad,” that bad things are to be expected from us, failing some intervention. I’m not saying we walk around with that maxim foremost in our thoughts, I’m just saying that at the bottom of all the detail, after all the life history, after all of our conversation dies down, this is usually what’s assumed to be the nasty bit of reality underlying everything. We try not to let every conversation go dark like that, we don’t think about it very much, it seems pretty clear that it’s unproductive, whether we actually believe it or not, it’s the end of the logic, the end of the conversation, bah! Human nature.

Certainly, the atheist contingent of this Christian society has an analogue in slightly more evolutionary language, something like the beast within.

Before those ideas and existent still in art and life, however, is an idea more like fate or the Fates, this is more what the thing seems like in a novel or other dramatic work, it seems original sin and such are not required in fiction, fictional villains do not require reasons or excuses, they are provided as the reason and the excuse for the story already, generally. Longer or deeper stories may still invoke some theory as to why the villain is the villain, and then we’re back to our theories about real people.

When we’re looking at authors, especially the ones we call thinkers, looking at the arc of their lives and their works, we can sometimes see what sort of metaphor they used when addressing this thing. Certainly Dostoevsky ended on original sin, of course, along with many from a Christian culture, modern biological voices seem to go with some iteration of the beast within, I’m thinking about Sapolsky, “we are half this and half that, predator and prey, bestial and civilized.” Often we simply see the empty space, the artist as simply artist, depiction and not explanation, think Bob Dylan’s attitude, maybe the Coen brothers’ films, not always nihilism, sometimes just the very best sort of science, dispassionate exposition, recorded for possible future interpretation, when better ideas become available.

It’s a bit of a leap of faith for me to try to do what I want to do here, I worry a little that I’m just another Dr. Frankenstein, messing with what we are not meant to mess with. If I name this thing, will I end art? If we lose war, do we lose, courage, valour, honour, all that is good about us?

Can you imagine what it would be like if while on a philosophical pondering walk, considering just this fuzzy, opaque thing, you happened to catch sight someone pouring barrels marked “the invisible thing that hurts us all” or “fate” or “original sin” into the water supply? It would instantly be a different world. The next person you saw shaking their fist at God and asking “Why?” would be a different experience for you from all of those you saw before. It’s . . . artificial? Human made?

That’s one shock that might bring, sure, but carrying on with this elaborate, uh, metaphor, suppose that after this, every time you pass the water tower, those people are there, adding the stuff, and you start to realize they always were there and before the cistern, they used to put it straight in the river? Now it’s the same world again, only different for you, imagine every time you talk to someone, see some television, read a book, that it quickly becomes clear that no-one else has seen the people and the barrels and what’s going on with the water?

The experience of madness, to be sure, but always, and only, ever?

These thinkers, these polymaths and geniuses – and maybe a few simply lucky ones like me – what they managed is impressive, brilliant theses about the world starting from nothing, the same as the rest of us and working around this thing, making their deductions while having to treat almost the entire basis of human drama as an unknown, as a huge black box exercise, half of the story always only guessed at. It’s amazing the feats of thought with this giant handicap placed on us all – while I’ve been the prima donna, giving it “I can’t work under these conditions,” ha.

Since we’re deep in the philosophy fantasy here, I should say more clearly, I can’t work under this episteme.

So, I just won’t. I’ll shatter it instead.

Many embrace the invisible thing.

Not all who call it this embrace it, I think Foucault stopped loving the name before he applied it to the thing, but many call it power. This was Foucault’s arc, from my unique take on someone else’s summary, from playing with power sexually etc., to seeing it as the currency of society – hard to argue, with that definition – and blaming humanity’s dark creativity on the power, perhaps the seeking after it? Perhaps not. He defined the modern era as having sort of socialized power, having spread it around compared to past days of monarchies, which, not far from me and AST there, I too think the problem has been socialized, we’re all doing it. For me, though “seeking” power and glory and such, these are not motivators, I think Foucault had just this difference with Nietzsche himself, these are hobbies for the privileged, not basic motivators – certainly a few steps from biology, it would seem. I’m not clear, as you see, that he thought of it as a bad thing, in fact he had positive roles for power maybe, so I don’t think he replaced original sin with it somehow, it’s only clear he settled upon the word, power, perhaps not moralizing about it at all.

It seems a little clearer that he didn’t replace original sin with abuse like I do either, though. At least in the prison one and the madness one, it sounds like passive voice stuff, conformism, marginalization, impersonal sounding processes, and I think the passive voice indicates the void, the unnamed thing in it’s unnamed state. Of course, I mean when it’s sincere. Passive voice can also simply hide a conviction we’d rather not share (like a straight up belief in original sin, or at least for you and your people if not for themselves and all people).

So if all that marginalization, normalization and conformity were simply depicted and not explained early on by Foucault in a passive voice, it seems fair to say that his power ideas are what he developed to fill that void, and I’ll say, he’s a Brother From Another Mother for me, he comes as close as absolutely anyone to beating me to it.

But damn him for all eternity for giving it the fascist’s favourite word.

You tell a spanked eighteen year-old boy/man that the secret to life is power, no wonder we blame Nietzsche for the previous major outbreak. And who reads those guys anywhere but at school, at just that age? Circular, I guess. They do because of that word, don’t they?

I want to do this, just this, those guys’ method, Foucault’s archaeology or genealogy, to a few more thinkers, show their treatment of the invisible thing at the centre of human life, the arc of their seeing it, but perhaps this will be long enough and perhaps if I find someone else that seems instructive they deserve their own blog, and not to be an appendix. I gave one social critic’s, and blurbs for one primatologist’s and a few artists’, there are plenty more thinkers, but there aren’t many more takes on this thing anyway.

There it was, right there, two paragraphs up! It’s not a secret what I think.

I think the unnamed thing is the spanking, abuse in all its forms.

Think of it as a path to power, if you like nouns for answers, like “power.” Personally, I’ve been thinking about it as a misguided path to “security,” myself, makes us sound nicer, like we’re on defense, when I want a noun to end a sentence about it with. OK, past tense, I had been thinking defense, but I’m letting go of that, I’m thinking aggression these days, but I still think power is too big a word to have meaning. It pretty much just means ability, or capability, that’s not a thing you can toss around or argue about or solve for. “Security” still works for me, as long is has the ironic quotation marks around it.

The main thing is, though, to think of abuse as that great, invisible problem no-one can name or even see, rather than to think of it as the solution, because, surprise, that’s why you can’t see it, you’ve got it labelled wrong.

I want to say, before I sign off, I’m not so cold.

Breaks my heart, thinking of us all banging our heads against this problem and not being able to name the monster, especially when I know the person I’m seeing fighting blindly against it is a sensitive thoughtful sort, someone really trying to work it out for us all, so many of them, of us. It’s both a personal and a universal human tragedy. I’m guessing Foucault left his own abuse aside, as we do, surely that was “only” a personal problem, and not to be included in any serious studies.

You know? I know you do.

 

Jeff

March 12th., 2020

What it Means

It means that the harder we try, the worse it gets. That’s what bad information can do. It means that there is no hope. It means that the planet will continue to warm and all the bad things we do when resources get scarce are all that is left for us.

It means all of that.

That’s what it means when you motivate your child with a pat on the butt.

What do you expect? Violence breeds violence and causes brain damage. If you don’t know the difference between giving food and shelter and trying to hurt someone, what do you expect? I know the rationale, believe me, every human knows the rationale – it’s not rational, it flies in the face of actual knowledge.

That’s called the fallacy of consensus, when everybody is wrong. In this, all are science deniers.

A pat on the butt is violence. This is a literal truth that is somehow . . . toothless. A law without an officer. Nobody cares.

Pats on the butt are good for you, teach you right from wrong, help you become a happy, healthy, productive member of society. These are lies that are invincible, impervious to scientific debunking. A social “truth.” Everybody cares very much. My argument is not complicated, but it’s invisible and the language it requires has not yet been invented, which is all one with the problem. I keep trying, but I’m not having much luck.

There is a downside to a pat on the butt.

I know, most of us can get that far, just not so far that this toothless literal fact matters. If we are forced to account for it, it becomes part of a bigger equation, a cost/benefit analysis and now the social truth has a caveat, a pat on the butt is “net” good for you, “net” teaches you right from wrong, “net” helps you become a happy, healthy, productive member of society. First – do you hear yourself?

It’s “good” for you, as long as you add in a lot of other stuff that really is good for you?

You know you can say that about anything that doesn’t kill you instantly, right?

It’s bad for you, shut up, you know it’s bad for you, because that’s the whole theory, punishments are deterrents because we all know pain is indicative of damage and so we instinctively avoid it, that’s not just science, like Skinner, it’s your science, you wouldn’t do it if you didn’t think there was some real life mechanism by which it “worked.” Skinner was an asshole, by the way, but I digress.

I can’t force you to be here for this conversation, I can’t force you place your chips on your science bingo cards or tell us all when your card is full, I know you’re free to not listen, but I can’t respond to this game of bait and switch either, you defending the use of the leveraging of negative stimulus by turning around and denying that your stimulus is actually negative! and so I say again, if you don’t know the difference between giving food and shelter and trying to hurt someone, what do you expect? Between literal, actual nurturing and some “no, really, this stuff you instinctively know is bad for you is actually good for you” nurturing, well . . . well that’s the education I am trying to give, isn’t it?

Yes, it is.

There is a downside to a pat on the butt and it matters. My entire blog is an attempt to prove it matters – and I don’t mean personally, or emotionally , or psychologically, or in any way you may define as “mere” humanism or “soft” science – those things are already all lined up in support for the idea that abuse is bad that the downside of a pat on the butt matters. I’m talking about evolution and genetics and anyway when I’m finished social science and the humanities will have a solid footing and all such divisions can begin to heal over. My blog says in the most rambling and disjointed way that the downside is where the causality is, where the science is.

Let me say that again: the downside is where the causality is, where the science is.

Meaning, Skinner was interesting and important, but he’s taken us all down a side-road, talking about the intermittent rewards system of punishments for his and our conscious goals and completely discounting the more direct and dependable results of punishment – what we call “the down-side,” meaning the pain and the damage, and what I call the antisocialization of people.

Meaning, law and order and the usual “civilization” narrative is not where the science is, meaning those stories are all a part of the lie, the social truth instead, meaning we are pushing ahead with our fictional origin narrative on a species level as well as on national levels.

Meaning there is no easier and more evil job than “law and order politician or vendor” because the cure you’re selling is causing the problem they’re buying it to fix!

Meaning, in reality, the world makes some sense, things are not impossibly complex, just upside-down. Spankings/prison makes you worse? Yes, science. Police families have extra domestic abuse? Yes, science. Everyone is raised with spankings, etc., so every serial killer was abused? Yes, science. Simple, when we get out from under the social lie and see the literal truth. “Do something” means “kill people” to an abused population?

Yes, science!

Meaning, back to the top, the harder we try, the worse we get, with this punishment idea, because science, bad things are bad, who knew. Not us poor abused, brain damaged idiots, apparently, but they are. I do that little exercise all the time, do you? What would I think if I weren’t so screwed up? What might an actual happy, healthy person think about it? You should.

Give a kid a beating, he learns more slowly.

Teach the kids to give beatings, we all learn more slowly.

It’s so weird, I really thought I had it this time. The whole world is upside-down, I really thought I was making the point with power this time.

But it’s impossible, isn’t it?

It just disappears, somehow.

One more try.

We’re wrong whenever we think “hurting that person will fix it,” and it was hurting you that gave you the thought. The hurt function is fully up and running, we’ve all been through it, and still here we are. You’re not going to change anyone in the other direction by simply putting them through it some more, are you?

And that’s all you got.

Except for that consensus. No argument, just the whole world on your side.

 

 

Jeff

November 27th., 2019

Human Autobiographies

Psychology should concern itself with pain. Wasn’t that the original idea, a specialty within medicine, an attempt to lessen pain and help people?

I ask, in all seriousness: this toxic Evolutionary Psychology I’m hearing about – is there any mention of suffering in it? I’m guessing not, that’s probably what’s so poisonous about it. But let’s back that up one step. This Evolution idea – same question: do pain or suffering have an appearance, a role?

I won’t make you wait. I can never write a novel or a textbook, I can’t keep a secret long enough to build tension or fill a book – in reality, pain and suffering are part of our evolving past and present, absolutely. It seems to be absent, however, I mean except as a spectre, a bogeyman, in the form of deterrents, from the usual tale of our group existence. Pain and suffering are the price for civilization, and civilization is life and security. That’s the role, yes, bogeyman, scare ourselves straight, I know how it works, I had parents, a children’s group, bosses, I know about deterrents. So that’s the role assigned to pain and abuse in our current understanding.

Like it doesn’t ever actually happen. Like whether it actually happens or not wouldn’t matter, the deterrent is the function.

That’s how evolution, and everything else in life works, right, nothing has to happen, it’s not things that happen that matter, only things that might happen, only threats of things happening that matter?

But this is our origin story, our social organization, and majority control of misbehavers, the employment of rules, laws and deterrents has had an effect on us – civilization – the idea of abuse and punishments has brought us all this way, but the reality of the abuse has had no measurable effect. We are different enough from everything else that walks the Earth for half of us to wonder if Earth is really where we’re from – from the threat, from the fear of abuse, but the reality of the abuse with such aversive power, the actuality of the abuse that has the whole species changing their behaviour to avoid it is apparently powerless.

If you get it, if you agree, say nothing!

I knew it.

The difference of treatment we enjoy within our groups as opposed to when we’re caught alone outside of them – this I see as a chicken or egg question or rather whether a zebra is a black horse with white stripes or the reverse, except that it matters.

The way I see it stated is usually some version of “prosocial at home, antisocial without,” and while it does describe the disparity we see and we would expect to see at the in-group boundary line, it seems to lack causality. I find there is plenty of stuff going on in the in-group that being “prosocial” does not explain.

OK, in brutal terms: if I would murder an out-group person for eyeing my wife, and only beat an in-group member unconscious for the same slight, then this framework has the beating as a prosocial, in-group behaviour, like I brought the fellow life. Now, if while I had him out and could indeed have dispatched him at little extra cost and didn’t, perhaps yes, he lives because of my prosocial choice about him – that doesn’t make this a story about friends giving life to one another.

It’s still a violent episode, with violent motivations, and ongoing effects of possibly adjusted hierarchies, possible physical injuries, possible further revenge scenarios – the lifegiving part of this story is not what drives the plot, is the point, in that I’m afraid I agree with the toxic evo-boys. To be fair, we’re talking about a story about toxic boys fighting over their women like they are property in this example, so it’s not prosocial things driving this story.

Not even in the long term, genetic terms!

In this story, I would execute a neighbor tribe’s possible rapist, but stay it for my in-group possible rapist, and breeding rapists is probably not easily explained as “prosocial” either, in the long run, is it? What more aggressive thing could a species do?

They say white folks see a white zebra with black stripes and black people the reverse (or the other way? I forget and it doesn’t matter), and if seeing the in-group as prosocial and suffering as accidental is like seeing a white horse with black accents, then I think this horse is black. Pain and suffering are the engine of the human in-group.

It’s our dark side, to be sure, unconscious. That doesn’t mean it’s the “small” half. With the preceding in mind, consider a high level result of this sort of error in our understanding: our wars are getting bigger and longer. We are far more violent and destructive than the chimpanzees, as well as presumably, than the creatures we and the chimpanzees descended from – so we are evolving in that direction, towards bigger, longer wars.

The normal conversation, repeated endlessly, because as you know, the obvious truth needs to be repeated endlessly, each of us to one another’s choirs, is that we are subject to these “outbursts” of violence because we still have the ancient chimpanzee within us and to that I snort and scoff and fart in your general direction!

So then, we were like this five million years ago? One long, never-ending chain of world wars going back to the ancient Congo, where, somehow the modern chimpanzees have today managed to keep it down to a dull roar? Even if our story were true, it’s clearly the chimpanzees who have slowed the fighting in it, it’s their success story, not ours. If it were true.

Where is the Evolution in this story?

We’ve changed, we’ve evolved, replaced some of the old, wild genes with newer, softer ones, but every now and then, all that evolution just resets to a fictional period five million years ago when apparently every ape used to have huge wars all the time? WTF?

We’ve changed, we are changing, and our wars are getting worse and there is evolution and genetics and for God’s sake, put it together, will you? We are selecting ourselves for this. What else? I mean what else, with Evolution?

Microphone drop, that sounds like an ending, except one, it’s not Sunday yet, and two, there’s something looming, some existential threat to my whole thing that I am going to have to at least have one look at before I decide to either take it on or just give up and run. Wrangham hinted at it in interviews, I expect he laid it out in his latest with a lot of support: capital punishment of tyrannical alphas, that makes sense, that sounds like civilization to me too. But any lesser punishment, by my own reckoning, while deterrents exist and a more prosocial cost benefit analysis may result, other things happen, the more basic, low level things happen. The subject has bad feelings, perhaps unfairness and anger, perhaps sadness, and more basic, pain has its own immediate negativity and those feelings are responses to that more elemental feeling.

This is exploratory, I have no idea how I’m going to get through this, but this image keeps coming up, that we are trying to extract the good side of life from the whole savage garden experience, like taking the metal from the ore, breaking down complex things to take only the best bits and that is never alchemical magic but only an industrializable chemical reaction with a very real and unmagical accumulation of by-product that goes along with it.

I worry that in order to improve ourselves, that we have split instead, polarized, and while there is a better looking version of ourselves to talk about, there is also our Mr. Hyde, and maybe he’s in the basement and suffering, but he doesn’t seem to be safely chained up. This conversation goes to our supposed self-domestication, and it seems obvious to me that we cannot be the tame horse unless we are also the cruel master that breaks him.

I worry that by trying to make a conscious change, we have created a monster and if the whole idea of punishing is the problem, that my idea is only another form of it, and doomed before it can ever begin, like if the problem is what we’re trying to do and not just how we try to do it. I worry about stuff no-one else knows is going on.

To be continued, that theme.

There is a lot of complicated thought to take us from Wrangham’s capital punishment to non-lethal punishment, to us being generally a lot less violent than the apes (by murders per population measures. I don’t argue that; I argue that huge wars also exist, that in times and places, our murderousness outstrips peak chimpanzee murderousness by orders of magnitude) but it’s all quite unnecessary. All that is really required is to turn the causality upside down and ask, either like I did, “what is punishment?,” or like this: how have we evolved to have world wars? If the question is “why is our murder rate better than the chimpanzees over the long term?,” then sure, maybe some answer that starts with in-group love.

But if the question is “How was World War II possible?,” then telling me “because we’ve found a way to make ourselves more prosocial” isn’t going to cut it, and again, in your general direction, Sir. For that answer, you have to say, this is an ability we are growing, a genetic effect we are selecting for. And again, all that is required is a different view, like I don’t know what you’d call it, what discipline concerns itself with people who are damaged by abuse, but some of these Evolutionary Biological Theorists sure could use a little of it! Some field of study that tries to help people by making things they’re unconscious of conscious, to give them choices where they didn’t think they had them . . . something like that would be great for this.

I don’t want to get grandiose on you, but I know two sciences that could change the world if they would see that they belong together. I know, the pond’s been poisoned, but abuse is in our DNA and in our evolution which is the hard science that should be the foundation for the social sciences, instead of, what was it again?

Nothing?

Or the story debunked above?

Call me.

 

 

Jeff

November 2nd., 2019

Workarounds

Not motivated today, this will be short and bitter.

(Update: motivation showed up to derail this. Now it’s middling long and bitter.)

Been reading or listening to Trivers talking about the awful issue of what are called “honour killings” of women in some cultures, families making examples of their own daughters to enforce family or sect marriage rules. This, at the very first glance seems counterintuitive to social theory and relatedness, parents killing their offspring, but he makes the case that the practice thrives where all the families and so daughters are so related to one another that relatedness rules are actually held, and parental genes are not actually lost, copies are everywhere and your nieces carry as many of your genes as your daughter. So one’s own children are discounted, to employ the evo/economic terms used in this awful sort of conversation, not worth more than the neighbors’ daughters, hereditarily speaking.

If the example works, then the kids marry the cousins like Dad says, and this genetic situation stays intact, and the Dads can maintain their dominance by the most brutal means, even over their own children, with “no genetic conflict.” Bob didn’t say anything that sounds so glib, I don’t think. He’s trying to help these women.

What he’s uncovered is a workaround, one of the human technologies for us implementing a system of ubiquitous abuse that no other creature seems to be trying, and if social relatedness theory is the “natural” order of things, then finding a workaround, evolving a way to abuse and even kill our own offspring – I know everything is “evolved,” everything is “natural,” but isn’t this a natural, evolved phenomenon that clearly works against nature, against a bigger, better nature?

A workaround, for nature?

That’s not different than saying a workaround for reality. You start creating workarounds for that, this is where you are going wrong! No?

This is how social realities are our realities. We have worked around reality and nature so well that we are not safe around our parents – again, not a mainstream situation in nature, not the real nature. Real nature is more like Bambi, isn’t it? Mom loves you, never beats your ass (and dies young, predated)? I’m trying to imagine a backstory like that for myself, it would be a happy sort of memory. Ok, I did. I don’t remember Mom whooping me, but she was pretty normal, I’m sure the other kids got it. I do remember her walking away a couple of times, probably in the worst of circumstances.

Bob speaks my language.

I’m from Vancouver, and I like to half joke that I only feel at home when it rains, but somehow I feel closer to home when I’m reading Bob too. It’s workarounds I’ve been sorting through too, right? I harassed the poor man until he had to answer me, and when he asked for the short version, I said parents beat their kids to make soldiers of them, and he said “sounds whacky to me,” and I have since figured out he meant relatedness, and where I was maybe mostly wrong was I was missing the workaround.

It’s the children’s group, the teachers at the schools, other adults, the police . . . we have plenty of people to abuse, intimidate and maybe kill our children for us. Residential schools, boarding schools, military schools. In the aboriginal style village, maybe the children’s group has third and fourth cousins – and they can sure enough beat you into conformity if your parents won’t, but when communities get larger, opportunities multiply. In this way, our children can be toughened up, hardened and sharpened for war or crime without all of us having to deliver the beatings personally and suffer the relatedness conflict directly and personally. Of course, our antisocialization works better and is more thorough when it’s everyone in society getting their kicks in, and it’s not just some personal battle between you and Dad.

Having said all that, though – Dad is part of everyone, and it’s not whacky to say he’s getting his kicks in too, that there are clearly workarounds at the personal level too, so my time of chastisement about this is over, Bob. Maybe not all of them, but, yes, parents beat their kids to make soldiers of them. Not saying consciously.

Not saying they all join the army – many are gang soldiers of some sort, many are ruthless capitalists, there is no shortage of battles to join. I say this with more confidence now, knowing that conflicts with relatedness theory are not any sort of deal-breaker for Bob, that in fact, therein lie whole fields of study.

I will say, Antisocialization theory lacks the genetic clarity of the honour killing theory. Cloning all your tribe’s kids so you can make examples of a few and maintain a rule of terror, that’s got clarity, no kidding. If there are identifiable genetic pieces to my puzzle, evolved abuse, alleles that respond to an abusive environment, I sort of assume all humans have them; I don’t think there is going to be a breeding explanation.

I’m afraid it’s the war explanation, the damned game theory explanation: this is a group level phenomenon. We abuse for the dominance or survival of the group. It’s a trade-off, a workaround. We sacrifice everything, even our children, for the war effort. I’m talking about inter-group conflict, and we’ve seen it with the chimps and humans of all sorts, whole groups wiped out. If genes enjoy a greater survival among a group at all, then those genes’ existential threats are only threats to the whole group, why wouldn’t an adaptation exist for that survival critical problem, or any number of adaptations?

Our gene-groups are living in competition with one another, one on one at that level, so to speak, and we see one on one competition among large organisms producing all manner of weaponry and defense and adaptations, some creatures grow enormous during these tournaments, some quick and devious – evolution produces variety.

So why not one mammal that has developed a workaround for mammalian nurturing to enhance its weaponry?

There is some love, something that brings a social animal together, some safety that we assume starts or keeps group creatures in their groups, some prosocial benefit, safety from predators mostly, to be sure – but there is some hate, something that limits group size and stops the growth of the prosocial network – I’ve just learned in Folly of Fools that xenophobia looks like an adaptation for parasites, that every region, maybe every group has its parasites and its adaptations to them, its immunities, and it doesn’t have them for the parasites a distant stranger carries with them, so no strangers!

That seems reasonable, but avoidance would be the thing then, and perhaps not aggressively seeking these other-infected neighbors out, exposing ourselves to their blood and fluids – and eating their brains to gain their powers, LOL. Wait – double laugh maybe. If they have toxoplasmosis, maybe you really do gain their fearlessness doing that! Perhaps there is parasite avoidance along with parasite seeking. I mean, sexual attraction sure seems prone to be full of parasitic wishes, if it’s not what it’s for, well it sure works, boy howdy. So, no, xenophobia is not an adaptation for parasite avoidance – damn, I have to go back and check if that’s what he said or if I interjected that – but parasite preference. Again, avoidance would mean flight, not fights.

Fights would be more like parasite acquisition raids!

If that is a possibility, parasites both pushing us apart and pulling us together, then I’m going to imagine that as a lot of interesting detail that for all I know cancels out and my antisocialization adaptation probably still works with entirely different suites of parasites and human genes anyway. Microscopic stuff is interesting and important for how it affects us, but lots of stuff way up here at talking level affect us too, or we wouldn’t spend so much time talking about those dirty, infected neighbors.

Oh my God, he must have said that, I am busting my hero as an evil evo-bro. To be clear, the point he was making was different, it was that there is a direct correlation with parasite load and number of (isolationist?) religious sects, that in the tropics, where parasites are more numerous, so are religions, and I can’t complain about that – this generalization, xenophobia as an adaptation that perhaps was a more casual observation, and I’m going to read it again, but I’m not even sure he suggested that it works to keep away foreign parasites, only that perhaps it is why we try.

But again, surely, if xenophobia has you going to their land, seeking them out, drinking their blood, stealing their food, livestock, women and children and raping who you leave behind and alive – are you really trying to avoid their parasites? LOL. I suppose acquiring a new parasite and acquiring immunity to it happens together, if at different speeds, but if immunity  can be viewed as a “power,” then maybe there is something to this head-hunting ideology after all, eat them, gain their immunity. Aboriginal wisdom, Good Lord.

Busting your hero is supposed to be your bar mitzvah, right, a triumph, not a sadness? I know, a rare case, a casual lapse and not the point of the thesis. Low hanging fruit.

Impossible not to think of it as a Freudian slip, though, some sort of ugly bias. I may owe someone on Twitter a most humiliating apology. What was the previous theory?

Oh yes, human groups limited by the law of inverse squares, that beyond your third or fourth cousins, we stop recognizing our own genes and start seeing the majority other’s genes instead, that family resemblances fade as genetic interest fades. I seem to be missing the part where lack of interest becomes an intense interest in eating them, though, that “lack of interest” equals hostility, that is an unconscious bias I am trying to understand and combat – same one contained in the perceived slip discussed above.

So, back to my search. There is some hate also, that ensures our safe human group is not one safe, global human group, some trade-off we make for the group that makes it so that where the love isn’t, hate is. The safer we are within the group, the more dangerous it becomes to step outside of it, what seems a normal, perhaps infantile, prosocial desire for safety immediately becomes a murderous kind of security, a scorched earth sort of policy.

I don’t take it for granted. Brutal, violent nature is not obvious to me.

What has been granted? What is obvious? Anyone who has ever experienced ten minutes of peace with another human being knows that it’s possible, that conflict is not necessary and obvious. I am slowly asphyxiating, turning blue waiting for the oxygen of a science for which our initial condition is not one of senseless, automatic, unstoppable violence – one of Christian Original Sin, basically – some science where that perception warrants an explanation.

I mean, of course we think that’s the background for everything, we would think that, we’ve been antisocializing ourselves for maybe five million years, we’ve been making a point of nurturing and growing the genes that think exactly that – but intelligence doesn’t start with us. If you want to understand the world, you need to take a better perspective than yours! You have to imagine what would happen when the particles collide when you’re not watching, when you’re not part of the action.

 

 

Jeff

Oct. 27th., 2019

Jeff

Oct. 27th., 2019