Friday, May 29, 2015

Silverstein Among the Qing?

"Now that Your Honour's come to this post," said the attendant, "surely you've copied out the Officials' Protective Charm for this province?"

"Officials' Protective Charm? What do you mean?"

"Don't tell me you've never heard of it? In that case you won't keep your job long. All local officials nowadays keep a secret list of the most powerful, wealthy and high-ranking families in their province. Each province has such a list. Because if unknowingly you offend one of these families, you may lose not only your post, but your life as well. That's why it's called a Protective Charm. This Hsueh family [a member of whom had recently beaten someone to death] mentioned just now is one Your Honour can't afford to offend. There's nothing difficult about this case, but out of deference to them it was never settled by your predecessor."


"These four families are all closely connected," said the attendant. "Injure one and you injure them all, honour one and you honour them all. They help each other and cover up for each other. This Hsueh charged with murder is one of the Hsuehs on that list. Not only can he count on the support of those three other families, he has plenty of influential friends and relatives both in the capital and in the provinces. So whom is Your Honour going to arrest?"

~Cao Xueqin, A Dream of Red Mansions, c. 1785.

People are consistently people. A century and a half after Hearst was born; a century after the Maine, half a century after the magic bullet and MKUltra, and several years after the official acknowledgement that modern art was an inside job, so many of us are still formally convinced that no one knew Building 7 was going to fall, or that 50 Shades of Grey is popular because it appealed to enough dummies that it won out in the free market.

How boring it will all be, a couple centuries later, when Nineleven is just another old Maine-explosion- or Reichstag-fire-style reference in the section on early megacorporate history in some kid's high school class. All the luster will have worn off. Everyone who cared-cared will be dead and recycled, and everyone who's there will be considered a boring teacher's pet, rather than a controversial wacko, for the act of calling Silverstein a corrupt murderer. It used to be a radical idea that the Qing Dynasty was corrupt; now, it's boring. You can go to Times Square and strip naked and hold up a sign filled with accusations of corruption in the Imperial Court, and even though you'll be arrested for indecent exposure, almost everyone will still publicly agree with you that the Qing were corrupt. They'll nod along and take it for granted when you show how the peasants were exploited, the rulers were secretly abject perverts, and the priest-equivalents and lord-equivalents were working together to distract everyone.

We're so very smart in so many ways, but we passionately succeed in convincing ourselves that we are magical gods, completely and totally different from every other civilization that has come before us. Our Constantine would never kill Vincent Foster, and if our Caesar grew too power-hungry, he'd be sure to do so publicly and openly, and never claim he was doing it for our benefit or employ people to lie convincingly on his behalf. All of our plagues and famines are mere acts of God, while all of our social crusades will never be viewed as wrong by later, more knowledgeable peoples. Mark Twain warned us about human majorities, but we don't care about him even though we simultaneously, gymnastically, believe that he's "great" (in that intangible, actually-bored-but-too-embarrassed-to-say way that we like to call thinking of someone as "great").

Consider more fully the implications of the "modern art" conspiracy alone. For decades--and even still--private citizens have been snobbily liking modern art that was designed by the CIA and paid for stealthily by tax theft. People have built entire careers upon modern art--housing it; trading it; teaching it; contributing to it. And the whole time, they actually believed the CIA's talking points memos about said art's supposedly esoteric, imaginative qualities.

The CIA didn't pay everyone, so everyone who didn't get paid did all of that appreciating, teaching, analyzing, et cetera, believing that they were responding to a "natural human environment" in the sense of a "fair and free marketplace of ideas." They did so blissfully unaware that they were writing dissertations which defended smeared blobs of color (or building $15 museums to hold a few dozen of the same) as meaningful pieces of art. But for the CIA, they would have never had those thoughts. Like all of the 50 Shades readers out there, those decades' worth of art professors would have, if they'd lived in an alternate universe wherein modern art had not been used as a Cold War weapon, they would have been disgusted, horrified, shocked, and so forth, to discover their alternate selves lecturing a group of dubious undergrads on how any given Rothko work conveyed meaning. Similarly, remove all the historical context and mass media support for 50 Shades of Grey from this universe, then put the average reader in a library with three random books side by side, one of which is 50 Shades. What are the chances that, without massive media pushing, that person would respond similarly to the way they did when presented the text in conjunction with the massive social buildup?

(Historical side note: you can wiki Mark Rothko to learn that he was born to Jewish parents who left Russia with impeccable timing, immediately prior to World War I. Once in America, Rothko went to Yale, and just so happened to be lucky enough that the CIA took a great interest in what was to become known as his artwork.)

And you have to give the CIA that. Their program itself was a work of art--but I use that as a metaphor, which most art historians are not able to understand. A metaphor is a comparison between two unlike things; putting up rainbows can be compared to art, but it is not itself art. Anyway, back to the CIA. What a great accomplishment. And this thing they've done since, tapping another British agent to front this sensationalized Harry Potter thing that progressively led an entire generation of humanity into Twilight, Hunger Games, 50 Shades, et cetera.

What things that you like are the same sort of stuff? Not just "propaganda," because the majority of things are that to some degree. But what things that you really, really like? What things that you think are original and/or sacrosanct, are in fact just more of Nero's bread? For fun, I'm always available to tell you on a case-by-case basis, but it's more important that you think about it yourself.

Terra's latest big product arc--Harry Potter to Twilight to 50 Shades--isn't anything new. Like all of the "nothing new under the sun" crap created by the un-imaginative Powers That Be (TWMNBN), it's mechanistic genetic mutation, not creation. Harry Potter built on the long tradition of those who rape-vaded Britain and then claimed to be British; Potter traces his lineage through Shakespeare's empty calories, Milton's pro-Lucifer Paradise Lost, Constantine's Imperial Bible, and Jenome's genocidal Torah.

Cao Xueqin may have honestly described the corruption of his age, but why was he permitted to do so at that particular point, after so many executions of like-minded individuals prior? Surely his claim that he was writing about the pretty girls he'd known would've been seen to be a lie to the feudal censors. Easy answer: he was allowed to mark the changing of the times because the feudal government was going to change its methodology anyway, so it was okay to permit some sense of overcoming wrongs. See, e.g., Portlandia, where the exact same people who built up the politically-correct idea are now tearing it down. Yes, Portlandia's great, but they knew all that stuff in 1980, so why did they wait thirty years to admit they knew that?

Given the combination of rioting in Baltimore and the renewal of Portlandia, are they trying to fuel a backlash to their backlash to their backlash to their backlash? Everyone could use another race war for justice, after all.

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