Redefining metaphysics – In defence of basic thinking and the right to think


 

Wasp2In these days of omniscience, when everybody is a member of some intellectual, commercial or social elite, metaphysics is hardly fashionable. After all, it’s only about principles and working logic. Who needs them, for god’s sake? It’s quite easy to be pompous without such things.

Metaphysics is sneered at on a routine basis, particularly by people who don’t know a damn thing about it. This is one of the least forgivable of this insane world’s chronic anti-intellectual dogmas, and I’d like to castrate it permanently, right here, right now.

This is Google’s definition of metaphysics, which I’ve broken up into numbered sections:

noun: metaphysics

  1. the branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, identity, time, and space.
  2. “they would regard the question of the initial conditions for the universe as belonging to the realm of metaphysics or religion”
  3. abstract theory with no basis in reality.
  4. “his concept of society as an organic entity is, for market liberals, simply metaphysics”

The creative process coverFirst principles are where physics and other sciences usually come unstuck. “Being” is simply the basis of existence. How relevant could it be? Something is or isn’t. It has a nature which is understood or not. What’s “abstract” about being, knowing, identity, time or space? Absolutely nothing. They’re as real as you are.

The “initial conditions for the universe” (great phrase, guys, or would be if it was given some traction by more definitions) just happen to be major issues for understanding the place. Gosh, there’s a universe? You don’t say. How does it work? How do we coexist with it? Why does it work the way it does? What don’t we know about how it works? Irrelevant, or necessary questions? Note the use of the words metaphysics and religion in the same breath. These two things have absolutely nothing in common. One is based on logic, the other on belief, respectively.

…Abstract theory with no basis in reality – Define reality. One “philosopher” decided that reality was only what someone perceives. Therefore, the rest of reality doesn’t effectively exist? It’s only comparatively recently that humans have been able to actually perceive much of the universe at all. The usual pattern is that the old theories are totally wrong, or very much in need of some panel beating. So perception = reality, does it? Not like that, it doesn’t.

Job page 19Subjective reality is a combination of perception, anticipation, and analysis of its elements. That said, subjective reality, like macro reality, changes. Meta, for those who’ve forgotten, means change. Physics and physical phenomena are about processes.

Objective reality, (the external thing with all the galaxies, etc.) also changes, whether it’s perceived or not. Your most recent case of flu wasn’t perceived until you got the symptoms, and it so happens that that unperceived thing came from this uncooperative reality. You only perceive gravity because you’re attached to it. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist elsewhere, even without you. There’s nothing abstract about these things.

Fire, powered flight, electricity, the wheel, mathematics, all the sciences, and other things originally had “no basis in reality”, either. The principles were explored and developed based on the idea of using these things. Metaphysics, in this sense, is the most practical of all the disciplines. The demand of metaphysics is for actual thought, not mere pronouncements from some obsolete old dogma.

“…Concept of society as an organic entity is for market liberals, simply metaphysics”. What’s simple about that theory? Organic entities tend to be complex, with multiple dynamics, often in an ecological environment. Who the hell are market liberals to dismiss an interesting idea, particularly when they spend whole generations proving they have no ideas of their own?

Metaphysics basics

OK, that’s the trash removed. Now let’s get serious.

Can you have any process without a working principle?

No.

Principles in metaphysics are simply non-mathematical formulas.

The kind of logic to form a principle in metaphysics may involve disparate elements, combinations of elements, etc. Metaphysics demands a lot of thought, observation, verification and understanding, like all the sciences.

The Greeks deduced the existence of the atom on principle, without the aid of so much as a magnifying glass. That principle, particularly that of the smallest indivisible particle, is still very much part of science. Quantum science is its current generation precocious, if verbose, offspring, a few thousand years later.

The hatred of metaphysics

If philosophy means love of knowledge, the hatred of metaphysics is the antithesis of philosophy. How can you hate the very basis of knowledge, i.e., logical thinking and observation? This hatred behaves more like fear. A lot of the less impressive academics and pseudo-intellectuals default to the “here and now/ real world” aka “plodder” mindset rather than deal with the really hard stuff about actually understanding first causes and the entire structure of physical and other processes.

This is just intellectual cowardice and grovelling to peer groups. “Well, yeah, I’m a 50-year-old teenage rapper, too. Who cares about all those facts and all the hard thinking required to understand them? After all, we don’t go to college to learn stuff like that.” The fact is that the usually very tough logic of dealing with these very big subjects isn’t for the weak. It’s certainly not for snivelling little nobodies with inflated opinions of themselves and not much else.

Put it this way – Something goes bang, creates a universe, and you don’t want to know how or why it happened, or what it’s doing because it has “no basis in reality”? You don’t feel any need, let alone obligation as a scientist, to understand it?

You have to wonder why this book is STILL so far ahead of "debate" so many years later. A classic case of the norm being so far behind previous thinking.

You have to wonder why this book is STILL so far ahead of “debate” so many years later. A classic case of the norm being so far behind previous thinking.

I’ve said this so often I’m getting tired of saying it – Science is about what we don’t know, not what we do know. If it was just about what we know, any fool could be a pedagogue demigod, strutting around the intellectual barnyard like a megalomaniac rooster, clucking authoritatively.

Occasional thinkers are just as bad, particularly at expert level. A few pieces of knowledge are put in a death grip by your soggy mind. All principles, according to these people, unlike the universe, are immutable and immovable. One is therefore an expert, so there, Nyah.

Meanwhile, having fully embraced the basic principles of metaphysics on the subject of principles and built your shanty of reputation on your expertise in these areas, you denigrate the idea of studying principles.

Genius, eh?

No, you’re not. You’re just lazy, and not doing a lot of real thinking. You haven’t even bothered to understand the basic idea of having working principles, or the need to analyse those principles and see inconsistencies. Grow up. Intellectual puberty awaits, if not breathlessly, your arrival.

Metaphysics and futurism

The other, unholy and utterly unforgivable, inexcusable, element in metaphysics is the constant, endless denigration of futurism, aka forward thinking. This is also metaphysics, “not based on reality”, according to the trudging masses of pedantic thinking. It’s “speculation” according to some whose vocabularies have apparently committed suicide, understandably enough.

Metaphysics has to explore alternatives and options, by definition. If you build a colony on Mars, what happens? What are the possibilities? What principles and ideas will you use to make it viable?

Listen, morons – Why do you do anything? Because you think you have a future. You may need or want something tomorrow. How does refusing to consider future issues stack up to this ongoing bit of naivete of yours? Why do you refuse to consider the future, when it’s the practical working basis of your whole existence?

Future science isn’t “real” in the sense of a can of baked beans on a grocery shelf. It’s real in terms of emerging facts, ideas, and principles.

Your choice is between the reassuring thud of a can of baked beans which you can prove exists so nobody will think you’re insane and the terrifying facts of the undefined future. That’s a metaphysical perspective, in case you’re wondering.

Get your lazy arses in gear and respect metaphysics for what it actually is, not some sloppy 5 second attention span definition. Use these methods. Use your bloody brains for a change and stop pretending to be omniscient. Mental constipation is both theoretical and factual; both are equally fatal. Point made?

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Society as a crime


 

Wasp2Most human beings would be fully justified in seeing the modern society in which they live as a potentially lethal, round the clock, enemy. This is a world where nothing that needs doing ever gets done. Anything that doesn’t need doing is practically compulsory, and expensive. There are plenty of reasons for doing nothing, all bad ones, and mainly about money.

Health is a case in point. As though any amount of dollars or ideological spin equates to hundreds of millions of dismal lives. It’s evolution in reverse – The unsolved problems are dictating life or death survival for billions of people. In the past, a society, like a tribal society, was a survival mechanism. Now, it’s the thing most likely to jeopardize your survival. Pick a subject; evaluate how your society handles it, and see if you can find a way out.

Society  as hypocrite

Society, in all its tedious ugliness and vacuous incompetence, expects people to contribute to it, while contributing nothing at all to people except ever-increasing risks and reduced rewards for effort. Crime, corruption, greed, actual psychosis in societal administration, it’s all there, and it’s all yours. Lucky you. You could say the society is a crime, and it’s pretty damn hard to prove otherwise.

Ads_Cover_for_KindleThe environment in which most people live is choked with toxic cocktails of chemicals, dubious quality food, and social environments which are as much a form of torture as the average school. You get to mix with people, and their psychoses and diseases, whether you like it or not.

Double standards are now a true commodity market. The same society which inflicts unnecessary disasters demands a double standard of behavior for just about everything, at the most basic levels and starting from childhood:

 

  • You’re supposed to keep your room and your home nice and clean and tidy, but it’s OK for others to hyper-pollute your entire planet and turn it in to a gigantic, unsanitary breeding ground for new diseases.
  • You’re supposed to admire success, but very few people actually achieve it to any significant extent.
  • You’re supposed to respect a meritocracy, then work for people who make careers out of nepotism and sycophancy.
  • Your own performance is subject to rigorous scrutiny, but not that of corporate or political leaders and their charming little associates who can send nations bankrupt, turn social maladministration in to a decades-long game show, or start World War 3.
  • Religions demand belief in their teachings, and then systematically fail to practice any of those teachings themselves for thousands of years.
  • People are supposed to be honest, while everyone else lies their butts off at the expense of honest people.
  • People in societies where poverty is a major problem usually have minimal, if any access to ways of improving their lives. The solution? Breed more people to make access even tougher.
  • Intelligence provides the driving forces for all products, designs, fashions, transport, technologies, games, media, science, medicine, and new breakthroughs. If you’re an intelligent person, however, you are usually actually hated and denigrated at the very least. That’s OK with society because some 5 second attention span peasant jerk said so on some worthless chat show or media outlet.

These are the social starting points for kids being born now. Just about everyone has a few strong opinions about things they would rather never have done, or known about, or had to endure.

This society is a formula for making sure life is as unpleasant and difficult as possible for everybody. It’s a formula for mass failure. How and why are people be expected to “contribute” to something which is apparently trying to make their lives in to horror stories?

There’s an easy fix for this pseudo-society and its pseudo-people. Opt out. Do everything differently; just don’t do what it does.

Consider this range of options:

  • Free food.
  • Free housing.
  • Free education in anything you like.
  • Free health care.
  • Free communications.
  • Free private and public transport.
  • Free choice of lifestyle.
  • No disenfranchisement of the right of self-determination.
  • The only law – Just don’t hurt anyone else.

Impossible?

No.

Just not tried yet. Presumably, when all the other options have failed with their usual inelegant lack of grace, someone will realize how easy it is to do these things.

As for contributions to this society – For myself, the only thing I’ll contribute to it is to piss on its well-deserved long overdue grave.

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A few insults to help cause acidity


 

Wasp2Insults are among the few things people actually listen to. The other major category is questions – People are socially programmed to respond. I spend a lot of time improving my ability to add insults to injuries.

For those who need them:

Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were a sewer.

I am a rational person. It’s just that looking at you doesn’t help.

Shouldn’t you be flying around light globes?

…And if madam will just scuttle under the fridge, she’ll find a friend.

The only pacifist in the war of love.

What are you doing here? Did they run out of cockroaches?

By the law of averages, I can tell by looking at you that world is full of beautiful, intelligent people.

Didn’t I tread on you in 1967?

It’s just that the zits are better looking than you are.

I see you escaped from the entomologists.

Who needs death, when we have your intellect to play with?

Other people have lives. You have a phone. Spot the difference.

In the architecture of conversation, you are a load-bearing cliché.

Your stupidity becomes you.

Life seems to avoid you, doesn’t it?

You went to Harvard, and they let you out?

That’s what happens when you replace food with theories. Bored toilet paper.

Have you considered breaking in to the Smithsonian and hiding in a drawer?

Don’t think of it as failure. Think of it as thoroughly deserved recognition for your noble evasion of facts since birth.

The people from the Bozo factory rang. You’ve been recalled.

You’re rich, famous, and totally uninteresting. Congratulations. What an achievement.

Have you ever considered being someone else? It might help.

One of them is a cheese. The other is you. Sure you know which is which?

We’ll get you a plaque from the Better Bleating Society. Then you’ll really stand out.

I don’t think you can afford self-loathing. Where would you find all that extra time?

It’s called Anal Recidivism. You have a dump, change your mind, and put it all back.

You frisky little dunghill, you.

Most sentences have a subject. How do people cope with this contradiction, when they’re talking about you?

Well, there’s the universe, and there’s you. People like to make the distinction, for some reason.

Have you ever considered fracking yourself for untapped deposits of smugness?

The trouble is that insults regarding you are basically statements of the obvious.

I enjoy practicing my insults. Insults are good mental exercise. The logic of insults is the logic of honesty, applied to real opinions. That’s why insults from bullies and boors are so ineffective. They’re guessing and don’t do their research.

If you’d like a custom made insult from me, they’re only $20 million each. Insults to the intelligence should mean something, don’t you think?

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The vacuum of facts in business media


 

Wasp2I read a lot of information every day. The question is how much of it is actual information. Global media, particularly business media, seems to spend a lot of time chasing its own tail, very ineptly. The sheer factual emptiness in thought and culture is quite astonishing.

I was reading something today about how Fed interest rates caused the subprime crash. It’s a bit like saying World War 2 was caused by stale hot cross buns. The subprimes at their worst were works of pure fiction with dollars attached. The 2007 Fed rates were around 5%, hardly worth noticing in practical terms unless you’re a bean counter or margin dweller.

The actual crash of the subprimes triggered a panic not seen for generations, with good reason. I remember reading in Bloomberg the week before the crash an article which said in so many words “bury your money in the backyard”. Nobody noticed. The due diligence failures and basic debt management procedures disappeared in a haze of greed. A ground squirrel could have got a subprime loan. This was free money, and the stampede in was as frenzied as the stampede out. It was a systemic meltdown. Organized crime was directly involved, and the FBI refused to allocate resources to investigation when issues about fraud were raised.

Job page 23I won’t take this guy to task for a naïve view; the poor schmuck probably believes, like so many still do, that the world revolves around interest rates. People are trained in theory, and tend to put the blocks in the holes where the theories apparently work. Like kids in school, the idea is to get the right answer, not understand the issues or come up with a better question or answer.

Monetarism has long since been discarded by economists and business hardheads as a working toy, let alone a useful concept. Japan tried it and got nowhere for nearly two decades. The US tried it, and only actually moved when the huge inertia of the American economy started to exert gravitational forces again.

Money moves and moves fast; the idea that it sits around accumulating dust while the rates twitch slightly is barely credible. Adam Smith pointed out that money works on a practical basis, rather than ethical or technical grounds. What’s X worth to someone? That’s the real margin.

BarbariansImagine if hedge funds and private equity worked on the basis of interest rates. They’d be chasing the tumbleweeds, not making billions. They don’t work in plodder land, with good reason. It’s extremely dull, slow, and certainly not about to generate huge amounts of profits.

That doesn’t stop business media from endless reiteration of virtual trivia and recycling and promoting bad, useless ideas. Apologists and spruikers, shills and scum, the promo angle drives non-information. The result, of course, is a vacuum of real information and a business culture which is nothing like distrustful enough.

Business analytics is actually a professional subject. Actual values, potential values, risks and rewards, are the staples. Fiction isn’t much used or highly regarded by the experts, largely because it’s so utterly pointless and delusional in real business terms.

The Rube Goldberg model of business information would look like a calculator made out of chewing gum wrappers using farm animals rather than numbers, powered by geriatrics wearing clown suits and ties on bicycle generators. That’s more or less what we have now.

A_Career_in_Characte_Cover_for_Kindle 300PPIAsk yourself- How much really useful information would a competent business or financial person give to media about a great money making opportunity? Short answer – None. Knowledge is a commodity, too. You don’t do or say anything which instantly raises prices until it suits you. When you’re ready to sell, your “revelation”, which may be months or years old, becomes headline news.

All this wisdom creates a continuous silence. The public, and just about everyone else, has no access to information on this level. People aren’t really stupid in this sense. They’re simply severely misinformed or seriously under-informed.

Business media, in fact, acts very much like that other two dimensional, PR-driven façade, politics. Attention is systematically pointed at things, relevant or not. Chosen subjects are news; what’s not being mentioned is the actual news in progress.

Business media? What business media? It’s mainly spin.

Not surprisingly, about 30-50% of so-called news is written by PR companies and duly published by our brave guardians of the truth. Facts and spin are interchangeable in PR. In journalism, you’re at least supposed to have some grip on actual information, but not in PR.

Pic max effects1Nor are facts much required in sales-based sectors. In Australia, the national game is Monopoly, worth any number of trillions of dollars. The market was talked up and a virtual horde of speculators, big ones, moved in. The upward move kept going up, forcing first home buyers right out of the market.

The median price of a house in Sydney is now about $1 million. A 3% drop in one weekend has the pundits/shills talking about a correction. Previously they were saying there was no bubble and would be no bursting bubble. The fact that accumulated profits are relatively worthless at market prices where your sale price is more or less the same as your next purchase, of course, was never mentioned at all. Homeowners with long-held equity have paper profits, but if they buy more property, they’re back at square one.

Nor are “corrections” spread evenly in this market. In 2007-9 top end suburb prices around Australia experienced actual drops of up to 20% almost instantly when the crash happened. The bull market in property started a bit later, with some big margins created by the crash and lack of confidence. Interest rates, at moron levels, were selling points.

People believed it all, because the vacuum of facts gave them no other perspectives. Now, we have about 30% of mortgagees on interest-only payments. They’re not adding equity. They’re basically trapped. If they’re in the first quarter or half of a mortgage, it’s a truly lousy outcome. They may have wasted a decade of their lives, and the only result is a no-win situation.

This is the lotus-eating paradise of business media at its most disingenuous. Market farces, not market forces, are the working dynamics. This is the vacuum at work. Huge numbers roar away in business media like the surf and nobody talks about the rocks.

Ironically, the people best placed to disarm these financial Improvised Excremental Devices are the finance planners. The very people who set people up for Death by Mortgage or Castration by Market. They’re either the most corrupt people on the planet, or the least trustworthy. They do nothing about corporate disasters, market crashes, or anything else.

They just sit there and help the processes to happen. They could fill the vacuum, and they scrupulously avoid doing so. That’s mainly because it’s how the market now works – Find a sucker, sell them whatever crap is around, and move on to the next sucker.

cropped-GREEN-AND-WHITE-SNOWSTORM-2.jpgThen, miraculously, they go looking for new customers because the old ones are broken and don’t seem to work any more. Apparently these people have something called “lives”, which include kids, divorces, traumas, jobs, health, and other irrelevant effluvia of the natural world which don’t translate in to available dollars to give to financial markets. Hardly the sort of people you’d give a loan or good financial advice.

In a society made entirely of losers, and in a culture made of empty spaces, it’s inevitable. Business media will say, if anything, that these are natural processes and produce rationales like cows produce manure to explain why the markets are infallible.

When an illusion is itself an illusion of its own, no facts need apply for attention. The markets are crash tests for various products. Nobody does actual business in the markets. It’s all numbers. Reality is defined by the market’s degree of acceptance of its own myths.

Once upon a time a young couple, just married, came to get a home loan and hopefully start a family. Nobody gives, or ever gave, a damn what happened to them.

How’s that for a working description of the markets in 31 words?

Long may you rot, you filth.

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Al Capone by F.D. Pasley – Blueprint for modern America?


 

AC2F.D. Pasley’s Al Capone was written in 1931, during the Capone era. This book is extremely interesting; the style is semi-tabloid, but with a bit more talent in the expression and a definite flair for storytelling. The stories of 1920s-30s gangland are pretty well laid out and easy to follow. The bottom line, here, however, is about corruption on a massive scale.

This book isn’t a movie or a theatrical event. It’s a more or less continuous recital of murders, graft, corrupt cops, politicians, judges, and similar Americana. The corruption was common knowledge for a decade. Not a damn thing was ever done about it.

There are a few reasons for that. Capone and others may well have had more people on the payroll than the Illinois state government. This pay wall was impenetrable. Murders with eyewitnesses positively identifying killers resulted in seemingly endless acquittals. The booze, rackets and vice were huge business. One cop commented that a prohibition agent with a bicycle could have stopped the booze moving, if he was honest.

Meanwhile, Chicago went broke. Public sector employees went unpaid. The gAC1 angs made millions, the schools couldn’t get text books. In the midst of this chaos was Capone, the celebrity.

Capone the celebrity, however, is far too simple a picture. Forget the movies and the hype for a while. Starting out in New York, Capone more or less literally fought and outthought his way up the ranks into partnership with Torrio, a major league gangster. This process involved staying alive in a pretty damn dangerous environment by any standards.

Even by modern standards, the 1920s gangs were ferocious, and far more efficient than their modern equivalents. These gangs carried out actual massacres and more or less continuous targeted shootings. The targets usually were killed. They invented the drive-by, taking people for a ride (Earl Hymie Weiss’ contribution to American traditions) and developed Tammany Hall’s penchant for “inspired political management” to a whole new level.

Pasley does a good job of keeping the issues simple and coherent. Just as well, because there are no simpleAC3 issues in this story. Apart from a peculiarly irritating tendency to refer to Capone as “General Al the Scarface”, he does a good journalistic job of focusing on facts, and many of those facts are downright intriguing.

He’s also fair, perhaps unintentionally fair, to Capone. The story as told shows that Capone had a choice – He could either be Al Capone the super boss gangster or he could be dead. Capone came close enough, often enough, to being dead to make that choice pretty clear.

There are some good Capone stories, where he shows a positively decent human side, and some “polished” stories which look a little too Mickey Spillane. Capone was obviously no dramatist; he was a boss. Sometimes he was a ferocious boss. Just bear in mind that this was all about business and self-preservation. Anger has its place in any story about any human being. Don’t mistake it for some sort of artistic motif. Capone was tough, effective, and never an actor; what was done was done for reasons, not theatrical effect.

The Prohibition era was very much the forerunner to today’s ridiculous prohibitionist War on Everything. Prohibition simply made gangsters rich. The billionaire mob bosses of today are roughly equivalents of Capone, it’s just the modern version is rather a lot more sleazy than its predecessors. Capone exuded a type of class; he was the original model for modern Mafiosi and wannabe top dogs.

The other side of this is that the culture which created Capone also created the culture of corruption. Arguably, this book is a virtual How to Manual of the realities of any kind of prohibition. Big money talks loud, and people tend to listen. Judges, state governors, you name it; the money distributed itself far and fast.

Bear in mind also that this is the Depression era. It was one of the most hideous economic experiences America had ever had. People were poor almost beyond belief. Fathers would disappear for months trying to find work. When they were hiring for the Hoover Dam, people came from every state in America.

Prohibition also had its ultra-hypocritical side. Everybody drank. The cops, lawyers, judges and politicians were all drinkers. The Temperance movement, however AC4sincere, ironically caused the biggest wave of crime and violence in American history. Morality has a price, too, and eventually it got so high that even the politicians thought it was too high.

The violence was continuous. If today’s gangs are deadly, those gangs were more than deadly. They were professionals. Very few, if any, targets survived over a period of many years. People actually left the country to avoid the absolute certainty of joining the large numbers of their colleagues in the graveyards. Pasley recounts with a certain wry humor that for two whole months, Chicago had no mob slayings after a peace treaty between the Chicago gangs.

Capone came up the ranks to become a big businessman. He was a lot better at covering his trail than history gives him credit. At first, the Chicago crime reporters couldn’t even be bothered getting his name right. When he became a celebrity, he was instant news.

His connections, too, were scrutinized, very ineffectually. A retinue of high officials came and went, and he remained. The “hook up”, the instant Get Out of Jail Free, for murder and anything else, was also first institutionalized at this time. The official position was unassailable. No amount of public outrage or appeals to reason penetrated this blasé environment.

Sound familiar? Apply this pattern to modern America, including corporate crime, Wall Street, and the rest of the happy group of parasites on American society. Capone was Capone; they were the machinery of the rise of organized crime in America.

Note to readers – This book is somewhere between Damon Runyan and The West Wing in its scope. The folksiness of the story makes it a little too easy to miss the total failure of so many institutions. Ironically, Pasley has written the story so well that it reads like a folk tale. This is real history, well explained, and in fact rather bravely explained, given that it was written at the time. Read and learn, then think.

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Too many normal nutcases


 

 

DR MARY'S MONKEY

You looking for normality? Check out this history of normal nutcases.

I’m going to ask you to tolerate a fairly lengthy lead in to this article. This isn’t a simple subject, and frankly I would think I was being pretty lazy and insulting to produce it without some background logic. This is about the mental disorder called normality.

I’ve met a lot of people with “disorders”. Many of them are without doubt, some of the most intelligent, truly perceptive people I’ve ever met. To me, they’re invariably what I’d call “real” people. They have a level of personal honesty to them which is both rare and interesting. Depth of perception probably adds that dimension to their character and intellects.

I’ve met a lot of people without “disorders” of any kind. They’re medically and socially considered “normal”. They include a very large number of people who are routinely dishonest, hypocritical, and entirely untrustworthy. They’re extremely gregarious. They’re also usually two dimensional and superficial to the extent that a piece of paper looks like Mount Rushmore in comparative depth and proportions. Some of them don’t qualify as “people”, let alone real people.

The creative process coverThey’re too easy to read, too easy to understand, and much too easy to predict. They don’t have ideas, don’t have opinions, and don’t depart from a basic set of behaviours which is as trivial as it is boring. It’s as if they’ve made a conscious decision to be nothings, to abrogate their individuality entirely. I have more respect for the cockroaches I’ve killed over the years than these people. Yet they’re considered normal in the sewer we call modern human society.

In the middle range are artists. Artists have their own rules, and regardless of their social skills, they follow those rules relentlessly. They can’t be nonentities. The mind is their workplace. An artist’s stock in trade is their range of ideas, inspirations, and aspirations. Individuality is a core driver.

I can take or leave artists in any art. Some are fabulous people, some are plodders, if at least individualistic plodders. Artists, writers, musicians, and variations thereof are required to be perceptive. They work and live in an environment where bores aren’t welcome and two dimensional people are likely to wind up in a montage. They are at least real people to that extent. It is perhaps a tautology to say that the more individualistic the artist, the better they are.

Normal nothings

000_0280“Normal” is undeniably the greatest real insult you can give anyone, at least someone claiming to be an actual human being. By definition, normal means nondescript, uninteresting, unworthy of note, one of a category. The individual is literally a zero. There is no person worth mentioning, just a patronizing description. Yet it’s a benchmark description for a class of people. It’s even an expectation in some social groups. You can be one of the boys or one of the girls. You can’t, however, be anything else. You can’t be seen as different or better than the others. You are “defined”.

Think about that state of being defined for a minute. It’s a portable prison. People usually move on from their original groups, and the definition changes, but the banal, minimal, expectations remain. Your status is defined by your peer group. Peer groups were used for years as definitions of classes of people, but nobody seems to have been watching the pernicious development of the peer structures in to a sort of social disease. They’re now a lowest common denominator in the worst sense.

One of the most obvious manifestations of the lowest level syndrome is the built-in dumbing down method of managing subjects and information. The most basic ideas have to be explained in baby talk. Literal translation is the norm. What surprises me is that more people aren’t seriously offended by this diet of pabulum. It’s normal to treat people like idiots, too, because they’re actually expected to be idiots.

Are we poor enough yet page 3It’s strange, too. I’ve met some quite intelligent people who seem to need a series of LEGO bricks in a sentence to understand it. They may not even make the association between a statement and the subject that preceded it. They react to it like a non-sequiteur. I know they’re not dumb; the problem is that they can only seem to process information in that very basic form.

It’s like they never got out of early grade school. The receivers are turned on, and teacher will explain a sandwich to them. They will believe the explanation because they’re trained to plug in to a source and trust it. I don’t know how they’re teaching college students, but this is the sign of a group of people who simply will not go looking for information for themselves and don’t see why they should.

This is also “normal”. Abrogating your right to gather and process your own information and form your own views. In peer groups, the group opinion, conscious or otherwise, is a norm. This is good, that’s bad. It’s very basic and very low level thinking. The combination of lowest common denominator, assembly line information quality, and no need to have an individual perspective is pretty hideous.

…And yet these lazy, almost unconscious minds are an instantly recognizable brand of “normal”. In this environment, the major threat to your social scene is that you might not be vacuous enough.

Normal leadership

American Valhalla title pageLeadership is an art form, in a way, in its truest sense. Everyone has their own style. Everyone has a unique, but effective and productive, leadership capacity which does achieve things. Real leadership can make the impossible seem quite easy.

Leadership in the baseline peer groups, however, is a very different thing. The leader of norms is usually a bully, directly or indirectly. They “enforce” normality. They’re the politicians of this region of social oblivion, the petty god-idiots of groups. They also enforce role stagnation. You’re not just one of the boys or girls, you’re a lesser being among equally lesser beings. Incompetence is welcome, because it enforces your lower status among other group members. The weaker you are, the more acceptable you become.

It’s interesting to note that both the male and female versions of this kind of leadership are toxic, but in different ways. The male leader is typically a mediocrity who can’t rise above his status because he barely deserves it. He’s a boor, a bully and a bore. He leads weaklings, and won’t tolerate vertebrates. To join his group is to devalue yourself instantly.

The female version is a poisonous bitch, a political rat, picking on weaker women with her equally enchanting pseudo-friends. Her group is comprised of low-grade female “worshippers” and sycophants, like the male, but the leadership style is based on a carefully and brutally enforced pecking order. To join her group is to become a lab rat, unless you’re exceptionally strong, in which case you’ll get booted out of the group very smartly.

Are we poor enough yet page 6This may seem like a lot of generalizations, but check out a few local samples. The need is to define a method, not analyze specific cases. I’ve seen a thousand versions of these groups, and they’re all within a bandwidth of predictability. They’re also a goldmine of hypocrisy and dishonesty. The lowest common denominator is in fact the weakest common denominator.

The democratic peer groups, on the other hand, are much freer, and leadership is based on substance. In a group of artists, the good ideas have value, wherever and whoever they come from. Groups aren’t restrictive, in fact they regularly pull in new materials, and occasionally people, from outside. Unlike the norms, you’re expected to have a life, not have your life defined by the group.

I would assume that readers would like to have their own lives, too, so I won’t bash this range of examples any further. We now have a working definition of normality and its repulsive realities.

Now, the issue – If you assume that deciding not to be a real person and becoming a lesser person, or becoming Junior Assistant Vice Nobody in a group, is insane and self-defeating – Are these people nutcases?

Short answer – Yes.

If anyone is thinking that people may have their own reasons for their “assumed normality”, to be part of a group which makes money or for some other gain, that’s a fair comment. The problem isn’t the motive, which is rational enough; it’s the end product in terms of who and what that person becomes.

Consider this mechanism:

People naturally tend to be associated with other people’s behaviours.

Even successful people tend to take on the characteristics of their social environment.

So an eagle becomes a penguin by associating with penguins.

Wanderlaugh_Cover_for_Kindle 300PPIThe truly deadly side of normality, however innocent it may seem and in some cases actually be, is to build a mental environment around the individual.

One of the most common themes in literature is the person who wants to make a break with a stifling environment. In practice, very few people ever do make that break. It may not be practical. It may not even be considered a reasonable move, in a successful scenario.

Sorry in advance for the incoming atrocity, but –

The best example of becoming something much less than yourself is easy to see in writing. Writers can go from true inspiration to writing like a soap opera. Their talent becomes adapted to the environment of publishing.

This is the “normal” market. Suddenly the super hero needs a mortgage, a disease or so and a love interest and has to have affairs with everything that moves or doesn’t move. The big ideas get smaller and often much more timid. New players and new characters based on the new schematic creep in and basically redefine and redirect the original inspiration to Crap City.

Result, from supreme achievement to schmaltz. Even the original achievement is devalued and corrupted by association with its lesser byproducts. Normality drags it down to a far lower level.

Sound familiar? Wherever you are on Earth, you’ll have seen more than a few cases. Normality in this “dilution and downgrading” form is highly contagious. As mental disorders go, it’s one of the great undiagnosed mental problems of humanity.

To my way of thinking, any mental state which forces you to become less than who you are is a form of mental disorder. The cure is to recognize the symptoms and do whatever you can to rise above and preferably far beyond normal. Don’t hold your breath waiting for it to be available at your local drug store.

Too many normal nutcases? Yes. A society based on a seemingly bottomless norm is a sick society and getting sicker. Form a lynch mob now, or help people escape from their groups. You’ll feel a lot better in a much less restrictive, obtuse, world.

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Consider a world based on denial


 

Wasp2Denial takes many forms. Things are denied as if they can’t exist, not just as if they don’t. People actually make careers out of denial. Now consider – What use is denial? It’s only real use of denial is to deny something false. Denial of something real is simply lying.

Now consider a world based on stating things are impossible. Why? According to one form of denial, it was impossible for the Earth to orbit the sun. The denial, in this case, had the force of law, and it was totally wrong. Now, it’s simply discredited.

Now consider what’s denied in this world:

  • Actual events and situations.
  • Historical events.
  • The value of intelligence.
  • The value of honesty.
  • Many would say that happiness is denied by a world which seems determined to enforce misery.
  • Ideas for the future.
  • Public health, now at its most abysmal level since god knows when.
  • Spiritual experiences which don’t fit dogmas.
  • Scientific information.
  • Social data.
  • Human rights in just about all forms, usually by omission or actual abuse.
  • The right to be yourself – From school bullies to bullying bosses and “associates”.
  • Non-lowest common denominator social positions and roles.

What sort of world is that? It’s basically a false world. A world based on falsehood can’t really be anything else. Falsehood, by definition, is unreality. Buddha said this world is an illusion. So did many others. Jesus said, “He who finds the world has found a carcass” in the Gospel of Thomas. According to the Gnostics, even physical form is a massive limitation, a perversion of pure existence.

Job page 16Yet this world claims that material is superior to everything as if it was a self-evident truth. It’s not. Bricks don’t cry. Power poles don’t fall in love. Toasters don’t have fears and hopes. Roads don’t get depression and anxiety.

If sanity is a rational response to an environment and situations, what’s a rational response to a false world? Insanity? No, because insanity, by definition, is irrational. Irrationality is required to accept delusions.

The natural world is not unreal. The human-denial-based world, however, is apparently nothing but unreal. Facts are treated like lepers. Like the Emperor’s new clothes, the “reality of denial” is invariably a claim of something which doesn’t really exist.

Denial may be based on ignorance, training, or superstition. If you’re told something doesn’t exist, does that make it non-existent? Of course not. Some people don’t believe Tasmania exists. They think it was made up by Warner Bros, or something. It’s the island to the south of Australia. It’s existed in one form or other since the dinosaur age at least.

What does denial achieve? Nothing useful. If it’s accepted, it creates limits. It creates no-go zones. Non-subjects.

Are we poor enough yet page 11Denial is basically a license to ignore facts. If enough idiots deny something, they can basically shut down even discussion of basic facts. One of the most obscene forms of denial is to quote someone who has denied the possibility of something or other. That’s the excuse for denial.

Why deny facts at all? Can you think of any possible good that could come of that? A lot of damage can be done by denial. This sick, polluted world is partly caused by the denial of the dangers of pollution and partly caused by appallingly irresponsible, corrupt, public health policies.

Corporations literally queue up to pay fines to the EPA for poisoning the environment for disaster after disaster, paying enormous amounts of money every year. They deny wrongdoing, of course. The people affected are just as sick and dead, but that’s not even discussed.

Governments simply shuffle the policies and claim to achieve goals which may or may not have anything to do with actual human need. A whole generation is now growing up with a health system which barely equates to a quantum particle of competent management.

Question crossDrugs that don’t work, or are themselves dangerous, have to be literally dragged off the shelves usually after long periods of denial that there’s any problem at all with those drugs. More money is paid, and no wrongdoing is admitted. Denial by silence is still denial.

It’s trite to say that everything people actually like is illegal. It’s also perfectly accurate. Anything which people enjoy is denied tolerance. These things are actually campaigned against, by “moralists” through the ages. Organised crime makes a fortune supplying these things, and is never really prosecuted or seriously threatened.

So- What use is this world of denial and to whom?

Use – None whatsoever. A world which can’t even admit the most basic things about its own existence is not a world. It’s an atrocity.

Whom – Who’s most threatened by ideas and facts? Those with the weakest arguments. Facts are predators to these sheep. Dogma, the greatest denialist of all, is never even really an argument – It’s simply a statement, right or wrong. If wrong, it’s useless.

The religions became denialists when it became clear that even those preaching it didn’t believe what they were preaching. Cynical religious practices are well documented as far back as ancient times.

Politicians became denialists when their politics lost all credibility. The clichés remain, but any pretense of factualism is long gone. The ideologies are long dead; their ghosts bleat on. Denial, feeble as it is, is their only protection against reality. Some people believe in the ideologies, and simply deny that they’re dead. A self-sustaining process.

Denial is usually pretense. Pretense is no defence. If it doesn’t deceive, it’s futile. Against anything or anyone which isn’t deceived, it’s less protection than a Kleenex in a hurricane.

The choice for most people isn’t whether to accept denial. It’s at what point you stop believing in a world of denial. Belief, by definition, is what you actually consider to be true. Denial has no role in real belief.

If you lose a world of illusions and a rotting carcass, what do you gain? Worth finding out, I’d say.

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Art appreciation for morons


 

 

Wasp2Host: Welcome to the Celebration of Minimalism. We’d like you to fawn, gush, drip slightly, and perhaps even stand on two legs at our latest selections. We’ll show you what art appreciation is all about.

Imagine the minimal version of a Monet. Two dots in a pristine white canvas. How deeply poignant and moving it would be. Beethoven’s Sixth, without all that noise. The Sistine Chapel, with some dignity. This is the New Culture, the spiritual version of enchanting emptiness.

No, we don’t have any paintings or sculptures. We’re really minimal. We have instead Fred, a local building-nuzzler and fortunately portable cultural icon. Fred’s not allowed in to buildings in this city any more, so we’re having our show here in this wonderful car park off ramp.

Say hello, Fred.

“Fresno intersection”.

Close enough.

…But enough of this artistic banter. Now let’s move on tepidly to the real meat of our celebration; the famous Larry. Larry can hold eight hour monologues in confined spaces, preferably as small as possible. All that breathing just gets in the way, doesn’t it? Larry’s contribution to art appreciation is based on his work as a critic and occasional sales-thing for various major corporations.

Tell us a bit about yourself, Larry.

“It was when I was six that I discovered my hatred of all life. I loathed interesting things. Why have beauty when you can have maniacal, obsessive boredom? Why have love, when you can have empty plates and empty minds? So, naturally, I decided to become an art critic.”

Strange how evolution works, isn’t it?

“I don’t know. I’m not a subscriber.”

Do go on.

Job page 21“Here, ladies and gentlemen and other great losses to entomology, you see pristine art. This is real culture; the frenzied mentality of the driver on the off ramp. The endearingly vacuous expression on the alleged face. The mystic cowering of ramp users. That’s art.”

(Larry pauses to scratch face; continues)

“I first discovered art appreciation as a salesman for Roombas. Yes, all those days ago, I wrote my seminal work, the Roomba Super Destruct Slam Dunk 24. I’d like to read you an excerpt from my piece on this delicious appliance….?”

(Enthusiastic whimperings from crowd)

“Thank you. It’s a template for my later work in teaching art appreciation and formal art criticism. I blush to say that it’s even been compared to some online direct marketing copy.”

(Picks up brochure, smiles and begins to read.)

“The sheer ferocity and unbridled passion of the Roomba Super Destruct Slam Dunk 24 can be compared to Wagner, Liszt and certain anonymous, discreet decors in New Jersey. In unknown places, covens of fans gather to watch their mighty role model as it whisks through grime and grit to expose pure lino. They shudder in ecstasy as it symbolically collides with family members, and other liabilities.

The creative process coverOne day, a savant called Sniffles McClownvomit decided to try an experiment. What if the Roomba Super Destruct Slam Dunk 24 could be persuaded to deliver colored fluids all over the house? Using a Ouija board and a madman’s palette of lawyers, Sniffles fitted acrylic paint dispensers to the Roomba Super Destruct Slam Dunk 24.

The result was what’s now called Instant Expressionism. Expressionism, as you know, is to art what enemas are to ballet – Possibly useful, but not in public.

Sniffles soon discovered that there was a problem with his idea – The Roomba Super Destruct Slam Dunk 24 ran out of paint, or clogged, or tried to commit suicide. The result, however, was interesting – Little or no paint.

Yes, friends and other debtors, it was Minimalism!…”

(Pauses as person faints in delirious crowd explosion of enthusiastic whining.)

“…Control yourselves, please… Well, OK, don’t…And here we have a spot of paint, actually supplied by the Roomba Super Destruct Slam Dunk 24!”

(Cheers, stamping of feet, and sound of adenoidal-overachieving person asking to have his baby or some other souvenir.)

The police were called and responded with cheerful arrests of all involved. Now that’s art appreciation. Go out and buy some, right now, and cower along with the other intellectual bedpans.

 

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Wanted – Eccentrics, experience preferred


 

 

Wasp2In these days when thought leaders/influencers are a dime a dozen and a trite vocabulary implies intelligence, it has to be said that the general standard of thinking has gone down dramatically. Turgid thinking, pedantry, and sophistry have turned thinking into a form of Trivial Pursuit. Eccentrics are very hard to find.

You have ridiculous phrases like “thinking outside the box”. What box? Is there a box? Does there need to be a box? Who cares if there’s a box or not?

In the past, eccentricity was a typical, useless, generic description for free thinking, but that’s also a rather loose description. For some reason or other, social norms and other transient phenomena were considered “right”, and everything else was eccentric. One of the most debatable and unlikely pronouns in any language, the word “we”, defined the benchmark for norms.

A_Career_in_Characte_Cover_for_Kindle 300PPIThe fact is that you would need to be a bit eccentric to consider that bashing a couple of rocks together to produce fire was a working and potentially useful possibility. The idea of recording information in text form was the exact opposite of pre-literary cultures. Without these two eccentricities, civilization and technology could not exist in their present forms.

Eccentricity, in fact, is as much a form of exploration as anything else. To do something new, you have to do things which have never been done before. Your behaviour and thinking will, naturally, also be different, depending on the environment in which you’re developing your ideas.

In the days when insanity was interesting, and not just some dismal catalogue of suburban neuroses, the line between eccentricity and insanity was very vague indeed. Insanity was almost respected, in the sense that it may relate to something unknown, unsuspected, or, more likely, valuable.

DC Doom page 30In the sacrosanct Age of Morons in which we now live, thinking is to put it mildly an acquired taste. That’s partly because thinking about this time in history is such an unpleasant experience. 1000 years from now, this period will be seen for what it is – A ridiculous flirtation with two-dimensional/no-intellect-required things at the expense of human need.

History will look back and see a diseased, obsessive and excessive world, in which somehow expediency and superficiality dictated generations of ineptitude, greed, and social failure. For all the talk about “innovation”, progress is micro cosmically slow, grudging, and subject to the whims of almost astonishingly incompetent people.

People and technology aren’t the same thing. Ancient cultures which almost completely lack most basic technologies have astonishingly sophisticated ideas, while this high-tech society has almost no real ideas at all. Modern logic is banal at best, self-serving at worst, and almost unspeakably tiresome.

Job page 23The fear of new ideas isn’t new. The fear of new logic, arguably, is much worse, simply because people need to rewire their own thinking to understand it. In a society where thinking is almost pointless, that’s a big ask.

In fairness, there is some validity to this perspective. Trying to explain basics like environmental sanity can be considered almost brutal. It involves giving people a lot of information they will definitely not want to hear, and a series of prognoses regarding the future, none of which are good. Trying to explain a new idea for environmental management is equally difficult, for the same reasons.

The major difference between eccentricity and insanity is that eccentricity is functional, whereas insanity is by definition dysfunctional and delusional. Eccentricity can also be a particularly difficult thing to work with – Eccentrics are often just as guilty of not understanding the thinking of other people as the plodding norms.

Mass Media page 2That said – Eccentricity is also a problem solver in cases where conventional thinking often doesn’t work at all. The employment sector is a case in point – This sector underpins the entire global economy, and the thinking hasn’t moved much from the ideal of “get an education/get a job/have a career”.

For most of history, as a matter of fact, except for some trades, that wasn’t the case. The workforce found work where it could, and was expected to do so. The Black Plague, ironically, was also responsible for the plague of middle-class normality which followed when the labour shortage caused by the plague created a job market. From this sequence of events came the cookie cutter absurdity we call society.

That’s been the basic model for nearly 1000 years, with a few upgrades since. Quality of life improved as much because new goods and new housing were available. Capital actually did build this society; the problem now is that it doesn’t know what to do with it. Future employment cannot possibly be the same as it is now; yet the old model waddles on relentlessly, as though nothing had changed.

Pic max effects1That’s mainly because the thinking is now completely out of date, and has no real way of even criticizing itself. That’s where eccentrics come into the picture as very demanding points of friction with any norm. Eccentricity opens up new ways of doing things, and eccentrics tend to discover anything and everything from new technologies to whole new perspectives.

If you’re thinking that’s pretty much at odds with any likely social norm from day one, you’re quite right. Change doesn’t just happen; it’s more like the movement of a centre of gravity, where the logic of change beats the logic of existing norms.

Eccentricity can be infuriating – Eccentrics are arguably the people least able to turn a vision into a working concept. They are the pioneers, the explorers, and the discoverers, but hardly the best salespeople for the job. Eccentrics usually aren’t tactful, have whatever level of understanding of mainstream perspectives, and may or may not know how to make their ideas work.

Mimbly_Tales_Cover_for_Kindle(1) 300PPITo give an example of eccentricity at work in the marketplace – The idea of a clean, safe, happy world may be hard to argue with, but try finding one person on Earth who believes it’s actually possible. One of the greatest arguments against having any kind of norm at all is that highly counter-productive negativity is its usual currency.

Good ideas, particularly those which might actually raise the standard of living, are almost invariably dismissed as “Utopian”, but if you’ve actually read Thomas More’s Utopia, you’ll find that the ideas in that book are simply highly advanced, certainly not impossible. They are also basically good ideas. Dismissing good ideas is also perhaps the best example of the most horrific levels of pure ignorance of which human beings are capable.

The mindset of the typical social norm is to dodge the unknown as a possible risk. It’s a particularly unworkable mindset, even if risk avoidance is perfectly understandable. The unknown is everywhere; it’s merely a matter of recognising it. Trying to avoid it is as stupid and impractical as trying to avoid your own personal reality. Not a good idea, any way you look at it.

You have to wonder why this book is STILL so far ahead of "debate" so many years later. A classic case of the norm being so far behind previous thinking.

You have to wonder why this book is STILL so far ahead of “debate” so many years later. A classic case of the norm being so far behind previous thinking.

The world now lacks real eccentrics. We have the window dressing type of eccentric, the self-proclaimed revolutionary at bargain bin rates, the rehash-dripping intellectuals with their soggy assumed perspectives, and other idiots. Public/conspicuous eccentricity, in fact, is almost the antithesis of real eccentricity. It’s more a form of marketing and branding, hardly eccentric at all.

Genuine eccentricity is a type of unintentional courage – Most real eccentrics, in fact, work on the basis of things which they see as obvious that other people don’t quite understand at all. Bravely they deal with unknown situations, simply because they are the only people that know about these situations.

These are the people who will perceive and solve the problems that banal, common logic can barely understand, let alone address. They will be a mess of different personalities, from the interesting and unusual to the purely incomprehensible for their times. Their saving grace will be that they are able to think in different ways, immune to the word “impossible”, and its hideous lineage of failure.

Ironically, “experienced” eccentrics are perhaps the most valuable commodity in any society. They have the experience of thinking differently and dealing with things that other people may not even know exist.

My advice would be to tolerate the eccentric and the downright weird, because that’s where the future always goes. The world of today would be as unrecognizable to those in the past as the likely developments of the future. You don’t have to like eccentrics or necessarily agree with them, but respect their ability to find the way forward.

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Hysteria fatigue – How global hysteria has gone out of style


 

Wasp2A lot of market wisdom, PR, and social media logic is based on hysteria. This is the knee jerk response, the herd instinct, rabble rousing, viral, etc. approach to public statements and information. Overkill to the point of hysteria beyond rational debate is another, and it’s fair to say that the general move is away and beyond this mentality.

Ironically, the human race, which has now been subjected to management by hype and hysteria for a very long time, thousands of years, in fact, has had quite enough. Better still, it’s doing something about it, for a nice change.

These are just a few crises in recent years:

  • 911
  • Sub primes
  • Massive recession in 2008
  • Ongoing job losses in all traditional employment sectors
  • Housing affordability
  • Education, or lack of it, and related policies
  • Health issues and drug prices
  • EU debt crisis
  • Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Islamic State and terror attacks
  • Ukraine/Crimea
  • Trump and related policies
  • China’s South China Sea islands
  • China’s and the world’s hideous pollution problems
  • African Ebola outbreak
  • Corporate fraud vs Main Street
  • Syrian war
  • US Congressional gridlock, now starting its third decade of total failure
  • BP oil spill
  • Hurricane Katrina and the dismal FEMA response
  • Chinese economy slowdown affecting markets
  • Droughts, fires, and other disasters
  • California/West coast water crisis

Most people affected by these crises, all of which are still having significant impacts today would say, with good reason and rightly, that they’re not hysterical. They’re not. It’s the hysteria of management which is more of an issue than the actual problems. Continue reading