Monday, June 22, 2015
Quirking Evolution: Dead People & Prostate Massage
Dead Love and Interstellar Spoilers
In Interstellar, Matthew McConaughey's character confronts the question of why he would still love someone who is now dead. "Where's the evolutionary utility in that?"
Easy. You can still love people who have died because it lends reassurance to the fragile illusionary self's image of non-conclusion, which is to say it helps you fantasize that, because you love someone in spite of their expiration, you yourself might not have to expire (despite your having actually expired).
There are a lot of reasons Christopher Nolan probably dredged that one up. After enabling the recent Batman remake trio, Nolan found himself to be an utterly unoriginal parasite-being, praised and rewarded solely for polishing someone else's building. This caused some tension with his avowedly Objectivist operating system, particularly as he watched various other comic book remakes, which weren't even as good as his, make comparable money and earn comparable, then superior, praise. This was quite unfair, because Nolan did a really good job with his franchise, avoiding the tragic neo-neoteny of all the other American-comic-book movies yet known to human history. The confusedly adolescent franchise results for X-Men and Spiderman; the shamefully juvenile Avengers and Daredevil; the timid, bloodless Spawn; and the endlessly vomitous, sexless-marriage-regression of Superman: none of this was Nolan's bat-related legacy, for he did a really good job conveying his message.
The legacy his (derivative) work left behind, though, was not to prove ultimately satisfying. His Batman reboot offered an excellent presentation, but its heart--its theme--was just more banal trickle-down. Across three movies, all he ended up saying was, "The rich are really great," which he believes in, but which isn't really very satisfying to his emotions as he draws nearer to the grave. Certainly, molders of public opinion have a job to do, and that remains their prime imperative. And yet, to feel good about themselves and their lives' work--to suggest that their chosen version of the Golden Rule is leading to a better world for all--they feel the need to display some sense of warm-heartedness here and there, sort of like how Monsanto executives are motivated to end world hunger, stem-cell researchers to save lives, and Chevron to improve the environment, quarterly reports be damned.
Ergo Interstellar--a hundred-million-dollar combination of Voices of a Distant Star and Atlas Shrugged. In its philosophical scope, Interstellar was ironically less original than Nolan's Batman reboot, and like all Hollywood's five-finger-discounts of Japanese work, from Matrix to Hunger Games, it was an empty plastic bottle compared to a living person in terms of the enduring meaning and human quality it retained during the transcription process. Still, massive graphics budgets, green-screening, heavy doses of Ayn Rand, and the obligatory Last Samurai/Avatar/Dancing With Wolves-style white cowboy fantasies differentiate it visually enough that most people don't know or care about essence-sourcing.
(All that said, Nolan was probably trying his genuine best to do something meaningful with his career as an intelligence agent selling repackaged Rand to yet another generation of western corporate-entertainment-guzzlers. And in that, he came up with his line about loving someone dead. Sadly, he so inverted his time-traveling nonsense that any hopeful message potentially delivered by his dead-love suggestion ended up being solved by the end, in the form of a, "Time is a closed system" argument. Which, if you've knowingly been on a Jenomic planet before, you already recognize, and which, if you haven't, represents a finite/hopeless argument. But even so, I think Nolan was trying, in his way, to express something kind, inasmuch as he could force out of the bars of his hyper-materialist prison.)
Questioning The Old Ways: Pre-emptive, Ongoing Conflict Resolution
Savvy cultural narrators ensure that eventual challenges to their narratives occur in predictable ways. Just as Labour was a safe, predictable channel through which to divert slowly-dawning resentment toward Tories--and just as genetic denialism was a safe, predictable channel through which to divert slowly-dawning resentment toward genetic predeterminism--skilled narrators will script social revolts tens or even hundreds of years in advance, where necessary to ensure smoother continuity of rule. Social resentment is thus managed like a dam manages a river, whereby individuals or groups seeking a "way around" can be expertly guided into the obviously-available, obviously-contradictory path. It's not quite "reverse psychology," but when desperate people are looking for a way out of a situation they view as hopeless, and they see a movement already in place expressly denouncing the situation that troubles them, they're easily gathered into the new narrative.
Cleverly, the resistance of the obviously-wrong can pay dividends years later, when, dejected by the failure of their new path, the audience can be led to see the old obviously-wrong as the voice of truth, its former obviously-wrongness not a fundamental flaw, but rather an error caused by concession to the new narrative, which--it now turns out--was flawed after all. So perhaps the old way was better, considering it worked for so very long, until it got corrupted by the new way near the end of its lifetime.
More specifically, consider the U.K.'s Labour and Tory parties. Later in the twentieth century, Tory is confrontational with the Irish, openly racist in attacking various NATO targets, and abjectly cruel to its domestic hosts. The people, desiring some kind of decency, look for a way out in Labour. Labour makes a corporate reconciliation with the Irish, attacks NATO targets in humanitarian ways, and is patronizingly cruel to its domestic hosts, but--and this is a very important but--it apologizes while doing so, wringing its hands and blaming Tory and wishing it could do more.
A few decades forward, Labour's humanitarian interventions have driven Africans and Muslims to desperation to escape war-zones, concurrently placing a heavier tax burden on Labour's existing hosts for the creation of those war-zones. The Africans and Muslims flee the war-zones, and in their desperation, are channeled into the U.K. itself, where they are used as scabs to drive down wages and drive up costs of living for Labour's earlier hosts. Labour makes it a crime to criticize the scabs, encourages the scabs to rape and kill the strikers through lack of prosecution, and after several years, people start thinking, "Golly, maybe Tory was right after all."
And so they do just what they're supposed to do--they start turning to more idiot nationalist parties, who are the same people who created (or who are inheriting) the original scheme of constant problems that caused them to think Labour was a good idea. This is happening now (Earth 2015) all across Europe, mirroring the party games elites play in the United States: faux differences and necessary compromises ensure the ongoing administration of the same people who've been in power since before the Gilded Age, as hosts sway back and forth between non-self-respecting concepts of fairness, and non-other-respecting concepts of toughness. The middle class grows too threatening, so elites, masquerading as Republicans, turn foreign nations into war-zones over "drugs" or ephemeral political concepts; then, masquerading as Democrats, they establish "free trade" to give the refugees a way out, and scabs are brought in to crush the middle class. Before long, upset at all the un-reimbursed money and murders and rapes, stupid nationalisms build back up, and people look to differently-labeled elite products for crass posturing and the creation of more war-zones.
(Vis-à-vis America's latest show, the above doesn't mean Hillary won't win; this is a game of decades and centuries. Reagan started destroying Central America in earnest in the 1980s, Bush went heavier into drugs, Clinton followed up with NAFTA, and now more than thirty years after Reagan, the nationalist backlash is still gathering strength. They could easily have another several Democratic terms planned before they adjust their tactics. Then again, they could also be moving somewhere neutral to weather a hegemon switch.)
This rediscovered nationalism can then look back to its earlier opposition to Tories, Republicans, or whatever the bogeyman of the day was, and conclude, "They had it right all along. Look at all these problems we're facing; the Tories would've saved us." Of course the Tories wouldn't have, because the Tories are also Labour, and Labour, when the need arises, can easily become Golden Dawn, as Americans will rediscover whenever their elites finally front a "third party" meant to win an election and prove for the first time ever that the system has definitely changed this time (like electing someone whose family purchased some African genes to send to Columbia and Harvard, which definitely proves that things have changed).
We looked over the political examples above because of their simplicity. Presented with the succession of cash-bloated vampires filling western political offices, it's relatively easy to discern that they're all really the same. This very pattern occurs in larger, less-personified ways, though. Elites use people (warriors, nobles, politicians), organizations (companies, parties, nations, coalitions), and documents (constitutions, manifestos, treaties) as ways of proving that things are always changing for the better; that control over the world's resources is constantly shifting in response to natural forces based on the inherent reasoning power and preferences of the Earth's people. More subtly, they design ontological structures, spread across centuries, meant to converge, collect, and guide underlying philosophical understandings--both individual and group--in the same way.
(Observation of elite strategies in this regard is one of the embarrassing counters to the critical theory that elites are merely stupid, greedy, or short-sighted. The plans that they lay out--not only for the succession of thrones and the careful recurrence of managed revolutions, but for the metastasis of philosophies across centuries--show that they are aware of the value of inter-lifetime planning. Since they're neither selfless nor kind, they're clearly not operating under the assumptions of "one life, one chance" to which they wish most others to adhere. Remember: Dick Cheney could've retired in 2000, and spent the next nine years massively wealthy and getting oil massages from 18-year-old Swedish girls, instead of becoming generally loathed by the majority of the world's population while being formally subordinate to George W. Bush. Instead, he chose public service. Is he: A. a good person at heart, just misguided? or B. seeing things from a different perspective than the TV wants you to believe? It's B: he's willing to spend his remaining years receiving less pleasure in order to serve some grand trend of wrongness that will persist beyond the limits of his own mortality)
Building up the theory of mercantilist evolution was an effective way to rejustify elite control. Longstanding arguments over the divine order of the world--God chooses rulers and ruled, therefore things are essentially okay--were facing another set of predictable challenges, so encouragement was given for the drawing of new conclusions. Darwin's arguments were neither new nor striking in a civilization which had engaged in purposeful stock breeding and cash-crop agriculture for hundreds of years. Indeed, the idea that Origin of Species was a breathtaking and completely new discovery challenges the intellect in ways comparable to the idea that medieval travelers--who saw caravans and ships disappear slowly and gradually over the curved horizon--actually thought the world was flat. Darwin observed a nice data set, but it was his elite promoters, and the social order they were trying to rationalize, who turned a little Christian scientist into someone who has his very own bumper stickers.
In Earth 2015, the "meritocratic world" theory continues to lose luster. The exceedingly slow human consciousness grows more and more aware of the rigged nature of the game (whether rigged by paleoconservatives or bleeding hearts, depending on your preference in bogeymen), and eventually, the elites' pet theory of randomized mutations and an Objectivist universe will need to be cleverly adapted, so as to channel popular resentment into an equally trite narrative that can maintain elites for another few centuries. (Ashke-) Nazi intellectual stormtrooper Mencius Moldbug has accomplished a lot in this regard, by galvanizing early internet blog culture into a support network of millions who prepare for brutal nationalism, ethnic cleansing, female propertization, and the restoration of monarchy. In the middle of the cycle, it seems insane to find yet another Nazi slave-ship financier trying to bring back the triangle trade, chattel marriage, and unabashed colonialism, but from a larger perspective, that's exactly what you'd expect, isn't it? That the Nazis would, of course, act like Nazis again. What's a few centuries between friends?
Confronted with a sufficient number of years of political-correctness, enough justified anger can build up among the various northern European populations to trick them right back into (open) submission to the Crown, without it seeming insane to them. From inside PC culture, the hypocritical wrongs build up powerfully enough to make a new generation think that, perhaps, kings weren't so very bad after all. Fire to frying pan to fire, to frying pan: never restful, but always grateful to be moved.
The Divine Right of Kings--which was always, really, the Divine Right of Genomes--transitioned to mercantilist evolution, which was a more honest expression of the Divine Right of Genomes. Instead of the God of Abram choosing the King, the God of Natural Selection chooses the CEO; instead of the God of Abram choosing between slaves and owners, the God of Natural Selection chooses between creditors and debtors. And that worked out great for a long time, and still is. Eventually, we'll be shifted to a different form of the Divine Right of Genomes, and it is during the early parts of that transition that we'll see bad arguments against mercantilist evolution floated.
"Random evolution" will not be wholly eliminated from the elite arsenal once the narrative changes, any more than "property rights" was after the beheading of the king. The former phrase will, instead, form a component part of an even more complex faith meant to justify the same essential power relations. During the transitionary period, though, we'll see poorly-scripted challenges--purposefully so--used against the old narrative as a form of controlled pressure release.
And that's where Christopher Nolan went, probably inadvertently, with his movie. He only meant to have a better-sounding theme; he ended up anticipating the overlords' challenges. We'll use his losing argument as a jumping-off point for a description of other losing arguments that will be purposefully levied at mercantilist evolution to lend an appearance of blowback, release some pressure, and ultimately affirm the underlying nature of material predeterminism advanced by Aristocrats and Scientists for the past few thousand years.
More simply put: elites throw bad arguments at their ideas, in order to make their ideas appear stronger when the bad arguments are defeated. E.g., Americans grow concerned about police state methodology, so elites suddenly inspire (more) riots and (more) black-on-black murder waves based on Mike Brown and Freddie Gray, which makes American police departments look good by comparison.
Having the Arguments Ahead of Time
What we'll do here is consider some of these suppositions, then counter them with survivalist arguments that explain why the seemingly "non-helpful" mutations could, actually, jive with randomized mutations and natural selection. The importance of the exercise will remind us not to rely wholly (or even at all) on thought experiments in challenging the narcissistic, king of the jungle origin-narrative of modern Scientists, but to focus on mathematics.
(Fossil evidence is also highly important right now, but if Terra's current worship of capitalistic evolution continues for another century or two, various Higgs-boson-style missing-link fossils (fossils whose existence will be proven by discovery of their lack of existence) will be "discovered" by Scientists, and real-world fabrications will then be developed and verified to establish the needed records. If capitalistic evolution loses favor, and neo-monarchists begin promoting a new style of elite creationism like that fostered by early Judeo-Christianity, then it will be the record of human history, rather than geological, which will be retconned. If you're born in a place where either has already happened, remember: mathematics, and the nature of beings just becoming aware of their conscious existence, are versally reliable. You can personally study the fractals pertaining to either situation, and surmise what's going on and what's been going on and will later go on, no matter how many museums they take you to.)
The challenges may be variously disgusting or sinful or otherwise wrong; they're not listed here out of advocacy, but to present necessary (and weak) challenges to mercantilist evolution which will be made in order to make random materialism seem functional.
Challenge 1 (Nolan's emotional supposition from Interstellar): It is possible for people to love dead people. This provides no evolutionary utility, because the dead can neither reproduce nor survive, nor assist you in your reproduction or survival.
Scientistic Response 1: Incorrect. Fantasizing about the dead reassures the living organism that death might not be absolute, and therefore serves as a counterbalance against stress chemicals which motivate the organism to survive. Fantasies about a connection to a fictional "afterlife" help stabilize the organism in the proper balance between an aversion to death--healthy--and too much aversion to death--unhealthy. Accordingly, organisms which so fantasize will be less likely to become nihilistic and more likely to survive and reproduce. Ergo loving the deceased--which is privately verifiable--does not disprove evolution by random mutation and natural selection.
Challenge 2: It is possible to love imaginary people (characters in a book, someone you met online who unfortunately turns out to be a fat dude, someone you dreamed about, etc.). This provides no evolutionary utility, because imaginary people can neither reproduce nor survive, nor assist you in your reproduction or survival.
Scientistic Response 2: Incorrect. Fantasizing about imaginary people prepares your mind for dealing with real ones, making you more likely to succeed with them, just like any other form of practice.
Challenge 3: Some people are attracted to prepubescent females. This provides no evolutionary utility, because prepubescent females cannot reproduce.
Scientistic Response 3: Laying claim to prepubescent females potentially increases genetic transmission via telegony, as well as strengthening the likelihood of "first shot" mating upon pubescence.
Challenge 4: Some people are attracted to prepubescent males. This provides no evolutionary utility, because prepubescent males cannot reproduce.
Scientistic Response 4: Sexualizing prepubescent males delays the onset of their puberty. Boys in Ancient Greece, for example, were written of as developing facial hair and deep voices in their early twenties, as contrasted to boys in Europe today, who more often achieve puberty in their early teens. It is, therefore, a viable competitive mating strategy, making it less likely that said abused males will be able to mate competitively in the near future (either with one's sons, if a female molester, or oneself, if a male molester).
Challenge 5: Some people are attracted to dead bodies. This provides no evolutionary utility, because dead bodies cannot reproduce.
Scientistic Response 5: Sexualizing dead bodies can be a masturbatory equivalent, preparing the body for more effective performance later. It can also be a result of a desire to dominate and control a submissive sexual partner, which has separate evolutionary utility. Furthermore, it could merely be the body's attempt to lust after the powerless but still fertile--such as an unconscious partner--and the body has evolved to desire such a circumstance without realizing that its application to the dead, like its response to porn, is worthless (except as "training").
Today's capitalist evolution retroactively justifies monarchy and the divine right of kings, even though it pretends otherwise. For, amid the struggle of the fittest, who would have eventually risen to the top of the European thrones, and then colonized the world? The fittest, of course. That is one of the greatest of the many great ironies inherent in the enlightenments and revolutions of the ages that replaced kings with parliaments, and priests with scientists--that, in truth, the new philosophy was not replacing the old, but more efficiently justifying it. No real surprise, then, when neo-reactionaries draw upon capitalistic evolution to support their dizzying mix of individualist racial solidarity and libertarian monarchy--it was meant to be.
One can hypothesize any number of ridiculous responses to challenges to free will. Take the prostate, for example. How would randomized evolution, eliminating the better part of everything in pursuit of efficiency, provide for a highly-sensitive, cancer-susceptible nerve locus inside the male body, directly accessible only by anal penetration? Was it necessary to add independent orgasmic function to this locus because male-on-male anal penetration increases a species' reproductive success? Clearly ridiculous--as well add yet another orgasm node inside the chest cavity, because it encourages a species' early development of heart surgery, which furthers its survivability. Independent of leaps of Scientistic faith, there are ample proofs that these germ-riddled husks are not streamlined reproduction pods.