The famed sci-fi writer's exploration of apocalyptic thinking comes back in style, unfortunately
In 1975 I formed the IBR, the international brotherhood of relaxation. Our motto was, there are very few things worth losing sleep over. Seems like Walter was watching me from the bushes.
"And I sometimes wish that America, our society, could step back from itself and step back from the rooting interests that it has to see what we’re doing collectively."
I do this regularly. It is the general reason for my career success. I am never the smartest guy in the room, but I am often the most self-aware of my own emotional pull toward comfort narratives. I am self-disruptive... constantly seeking contradictions to my strongly-held beliefs. I don't want to make stupid mistakes because of my blind bias. I don't like bias that isn't backed by a strong set of facts and truth.
Because of this I often appear to others to have weird opinions. These people generally have succumbed to a level of confirmation bias to what they think they already know. They are vested in maintaining their ego and/or some perceived rank or authority, and have dug in their heels for a position. Me, I easily navigate around them making better-optimized decisions because I am motivated to see the entire field and my ego is not wrapped up in needing to be right, but wanting to succeed with the best outcomes.
I think too this is a word vs tangible production mindset. People that are word-oriented (all of the media) are generally vested in their own ego pursuit related to the use of words. The problem with this is a sort of myopia... a fixation on a narrow topic of conflict over words. Us "tangibles" use words as a means to an end of material production... the words are only a tool and not the product. Focusing on the larger end result requires seeing the field... and assessing all the risks and opportunities past, present and future.
But I see that the majority of people are not very good at stepping back and doing comprehensive analysis to arrive at an opinion. And most don't care to build self-awareness of the decision sub-optimization risks for their ego pursuits and tendency for confirmation biases.
I have found that I am not the smartest guy in the room except to know all those people that aspire to be the smarted guy or girl or ?? in the room, are likely to own quite the competitive disadvantage failing to see the field like I do. That is fine with me. What is not fine... these people vote... and their lack of big-picture consideration causes them to vote for crap.
If I may make a serious statement about religion, I would like at least to make the point that in earliest Christianity the notion that we are in charge of making the world, through wars, etc was stood on its head by the notion that humility was the greatest of virtues, and that our highest priority is to care for "the least of these." Also that suffering and sacrifice can themselves be part and parcel of redemption and even an inexplicable joy. Whatever has been made of that in various forms since, that stands as the basic teaching of its ancient roots. And that is more akin to Walter's "let's just step back a bit" than one might at first understand
Great piece Matt and Walter!Amplifying emotion and attenuating reason is tool number one in the would be dictators tool box. Steering zombies is easy. Trump derangement, climate, gender ideology, racism, white supremacy, gun confiscation etcerea are all used to pump up emotion and donations. They are campaigns to centralize power, to extract from the private sector and fuel a centralized public sector. Whether its the latest war or the dream of medicare for all, centralizing power is the common thread. This is why Matt's work on the Censorship Industrial Complex is so important. Building countervailing forces is critical.
I hadn't read the story (also a sci-fi newbie) but the ending made me think of the ending of 2001 - my God - it's full of stars. Also this Stephen Crane poem -
A man said to the universe:
"Sir I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."
We get so consumed in our science, our religion, our world. It's impossible to grasp our smallness in time, in space. Eternity and infinity. But there is a kind of beauty in this moment and in the scale of the universe's indifference to us.
Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery. - Cormac M.
The Breakfast for Dinner Party.
The name for “not engaging with the news,” or not believing that “by engaging with the news I’m doing my duty to be informed,” is not apathy, but Humility. It’s opposite is Vanity or hubris.
As Aldous Huxley said in *The Perennial Philosophy*, “Sufficient not only unto the day, but also unto the place, is the evil thereof. Agitation over happenings which we are powerless to modify, either because they have not yet occurred, or else are occurring at an inaccessible distance from us, achieves nothing beyond the inoculation of here and now with the remote or anticipated evil that is the object of our distress. Listening four or five times a day to newscasters and commentators, reading the morning papers and all the weeklies and monthlies—nowadays, this is described as “taking an intelligent interest in politics.” St. John of the Cross would have called it indulgence in idle curiosity and the cultivation of disquietude for disquietude’s sake.”
The Perennial Philosophy
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I don’t agree that all reporters in film are depicted as evil. How about Clark Kent.
I've always been a fan of the Church of the SubGenius' pursuit of Slack.
The Asleep Party. Slogan: "Not Woke, Not Anti-Woke. Wake me when it's over."
WRT Nightfall, the term that the Marxists use is to "heighten the contradictions". To make people take a side.
This is not unlike to "imminentize the eschaton", that is, to hasten the end of the world.
I vote for starting the F it party. Just let everything fall apart. Quit collecting taxes, get the government out of everything and then vote once a year on what (if anything) you might add back that the old government did. It hard to imagine how that could be worse than the lying, slimy, self-serving succubus we call a government now.
The Mañana Party: Today is tomorrow and tomorrow is a week from Thursday.
I have watched the climate science develop over the years, and unlike Walter Kim, I see the predictions of the theory consistently coming to pass. There should be little doubt that our culture is in big trouble as there is no sign, none, of the necessary changes that are necessary for surviving the climate chaos that is occurring. Perhaps the trouble is that climate change is so slow-moving--the earth is pretty big, after all. But few are able to accept the slow changes to every day life that must happen to avoid catastrophe.
We already have what you're talking about in the libertarian party. "Everyone should just stop fighting and be a little more responsible." as impossible as tropical weather in Russia. And then what you do in the LP is you get into vicious friendship destroying arguments about how best to stop fighting and keep the future in perspective. It's pretty much perfect.
I've read most of Asimov, which you point out was an Intellectual Elitist, and much of his stuff came across as Preachy. I much preferred the rather working class writings of Heinlein, even though one of his most "political" stories, "Starship Trooper", has been grossly misportrayed in the movie "Based on the Book". However, the premise between "Foundation" verses "Starship Trooper" is that leadership by the elite will eventually lead to paradise verses that of what works practically, no matter if it seems simplistic, works better in the long run.
New religions come and go all the time, but why did the Mormons survive? Not considering the Dogma, the religion provides a strong group involvement, almost demands it, that has the practical side of mutual support and even the recommendation of two years food serves as a group ideal. I've been involved in the construction of a number of Mormon temples, they require that materials that can be sourced through one of the Saints had to be purchased from them. So a strong group identity, a work and educational value blessed by the religion, and economic cooperation seems to be keys to a successful religion. I could draw parallel's to the Jewish and Sikh communities as well.
The explosion of "Intellectuals" in the West is a direct result of the Financialization of the Western Economy that allowed the upper echelons to manipulate the value of money without a comparative gain in production. Since this has been going on since the Clinton administration, most of them seem to just consider it their right. When you add the disastrous Student Loan programs that pumped billions into the University system, it added a layer of "educational elites" that generated no practical results for the nation. What we got was an inflated upper level of the economy that survived on sucking the life blood out of the working and middle class. If you look at the Internet as the best bad example, overlooking the rampant censorship, now that the banking numbers are starting to return to a more normal level, there is has been an employment massacre in the industry. Have any of you noticed any down side to those layoffs as far as performance?
The difference between the elite and the working/middle class is simply that the elite can believe and do things that aren't practical or productive. My parents were from Kentucky Appalachia and from a county is still consistently in the 50 poorest counties in the US. My father escaped by joining the Military, my mother was shipped to live with an aunt in the Cincinnati area to work as a telephone operator by the time she was 16. I just include that to show my Blue Collar creds. You want to explain Donald Trump? Look at thirty years of offshored jobs, failing pension plans, lower wages over all combined with school systems that no long seem to focus on a practical education. Trump has been one of the few politicians that has even articulated the concerns of flyover America and both Parties have made it their job to Fuck him. None of that escapes these non-intellectuals. They understand that they won't get a fair trial, the present regime cares more about illegal aliens and LGBQT (or however many letters you add), and that most of those in office care more about Ukraine than the issues facing their own constituents.