Thursday, October 30, 2014

Gun on the Mantle

Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there.
-Anton Chekhov

Dramatic structure is our deathblood. Eliminating details cripples our consciousness, preparing us for dumb obedience.

The Backfiring Gun: Parasite Eats Itself

When we tell a story, what are we doing? What relevance does it have to anything? There's an element of entertainment that is sheer sensationalism--flashy dross, pulp fiction, tits and giggles--and it has its place. Like a quick sandwich on the road, rubbing one out in the hotel shower, or watching a couple Family Guys to decompress by downsizing the brain, little nothings offer a padding to empty moments. Those voids only come into being when clocks have been deified, but once they have, there's certainly a place for the tragedy they provide and fulfill.

The arrogantly, short-sightedly self-identified cultures of modernism and post-modernism have made their mission the destruction of quality by the argument that there is no such thing; by the replacement of apples with waxed genes, beef stew with a McDonald's burger and fries, and talking by blogging. Perhaps ironically, it's only food that has survived the modernist movement's chopping block, and only there among those who can afford to care. Everywhere else--from education, to politics, to the arts--the primal dross has become a successful, celebrated originality. No longer is it considered a substitution, but rather, is believed to be the "real thing." The doppleganger has been alive so long that we no longer care to recover our true lost love. Most of the comptrollers of crap have themselves lost the ability to distinguish quality from pulp, cream from crap. Leadership, critical thinking, and deep meaning are invisible; even to greats among the elites, those concepts are phantoms, eldritch and uncatchable, such that they have nothing more to which to aspire than the very same things they have created to ensnare the frightful masses. So they go home to mansions only to spend the evenings with the same whisky and NCIS as the proles; when they're working or socializing, the people and the outfits are more attractive, but their secret wish is to be back home on the couch with the bottle and a new episode. Wilma from Arkansas shares, with Benjamin from Hollywood, the desire to collapse in the den and zone out to Big Bang Theory, even though Wilma's pushing a deuce and a half, had her 48th birthday last year, and has a negative net worth, while Benjamin is a dashing 27, sitting on $17 million, and could call Eminem or Anne Hathaway if he felt like it.

Elite children suffer the same affliction. Like spreading radiation or exterminating proles, the blowback from the attack on free thought rippled the ocean, eventually rocking even continents. Higher-caste children are left, as a result, devouring the same teeny-pulp as kids in the poorer zip codes. The anodyne homogenization that elites created to make the lower classes easier to control has ended up controlling them as well.

The Circular Reference: Narrative Reverberation

Chekhov's Gun--which is a restating of Aristotle; an expression of antilife--propagates the idea of a world where things "fit" into a simplistic pattern. As far as entertainment goes, Chekhov's Gun is a wretched thing indeed, for it produces reverberations in story that have grown sizable enough that even idiots can now perceive them. For the sake of the circus, we try our best to pretend that the Macguffin makes sense, the president doesn't kill children on purpose, and that the herring is red. Audiences are no longer upset by deus ex machina; instead, they expect it, because thank God, it's something they can understand, and it's too much work to contemplate setting things up, or wrapping things up, in any other way.

How do you create something, in such a media-savvy climate, where everyone has seen the same shows, and every plot event that happens to a character can be--and would be, were the character real--likened to an episode of something that everyone else has already seen? Spiraling crescendos of nothingness fill the general narrative, so that it becomes impossible to create any kind of plausible Earth-based narrative in which the characters are not constantly blabbering about how the things that happen to them are just like that one television show. Every event, from tea party to alien invasion to postmodern coma, is a derivation.

The result of the application of thousands of years of narrative structure has been that most entertainment now is not story, but rather homage to story. Almost everything is satire, send-up, easter egg, sequel, remake, or real-life dramatization, sort of like Friends meets Transformers meets Godfather. Reality shows actually are reality, in that sense, because they don't have the requirement of connecting every plot element to a show someone's already seen. Contestants are able to actually be publicized versions of themselves, because they're freed from the restrictive constraints of artistic creativity, which require you to sometimes be incredibly unaware of just such a point of reference. Ergo, sometimes, you're expected to investigate that noise in the backyard after you and your husband have just watched the special report about the escaped serial killer, or you find yourself in a zombie apocalypse, but are amazingly recalcitrant to use the term, "zombie," even though Night of the Living Dead was released half a century ago.

Ironically, the more the thousand idiot monkeys have tried to address the problem by circularly referencing it, the more they've trapped themselves. The more media-savvy characters become, the less plausible it becomes that they would do any of the things that they're required to do in order to make things turn out the way they're supposed to. Evil geniuses continue making fatal flaws in the form of imperfect singularity cascades, heroes continue acting like they actually hate that pesky little blonde who holds the secret formula, and everyone has to pretend really, really hard to give a damn when the Death Star blows up or the sexy couple realizes for the first time ever that they want to kiss.

(Which is to say, as far as idiots go, even Homer Simpson knows that the girl is going to end up with Richard Gere. The result being that you can't blame him for not giving a damn about anything except Duff and football. It's supposed to happen that way; the repeated juxtaposition of Gere and Roberts is so painful that we stop believing love actually exists. Take ten Big Macs and call me in the morning.)

That's why so many adults pitifully memorialize their childhoods--that time when they were so ignorant that narrative structure actually held some punch. Neither George Lucas nor Random House has gotten either better or worse, but the more exposure people have to the drug of banality, the less they're able to care. The terrible experiences of childhood seem to be more "real" and "quality," only because a certain generation wondered, at the time, if the Death Star would actually be destroyed. Not having figured out that it's all the same drivel makes that first shot of H really take you up. Ergo Alec Guinness' arthritic staggering through a 5 mph lightsaber duel is adjudged superior to Ewan McGregor's tennis-derived pom-squad slap fight with Ray Park, and pod races are somehow "gay," but "Almost there...almost there..." and Jek Porkins are not. Even inside of six years, it can happen: big, hairy, chirping aliens are cool, while little, hairy, chirping aliens are not.

The Homogenization of Possibility

The fundamental problem with "narrative structure" is the denial of agency. When Aristotle and Plato used the Athenian Empire to worldbuild banker's hell, a.k.a. western civilization, they were expressing themselves in the language of the essential conflict between life and nonexistence. They wanted an orderly, perfect world, where nothing moved, nothing was out of place, and everything was already dead. Ergo narrative structure: nothing has agency, neither humans nor human characters, for all is an orderly progression from beginning to end. Chekhov's Gun is a modernist retelling of the same requirement. By stripping characters (and objects) of their agency, and requiring plot elements to be plot elements, elites can use their newspapers, books, movies, TV, and internet to disseminate a nearly all-powerful message of catatonic hopelessness.

How so? Look at Chekhov's quote again:
Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there.

Now, if we're telling a story about some guy's hunting lodge in Yalta, would there be a gun on the wall? Most likely. What if it's a romance? Okay, then, maybe the gun isn't going to go off, but it's necessary to show that the male lead is tough and/or independent. What if it's a murder mystery? Okay, the gun might've been the murder weapon. Or a red herring (a fourth generation concession to the dwindling worldview of narrative structure itself).

A lot of problems with that, though. Why should the gun only be mentioned if it goes off? Does the hunting lodge have a pair of boots by the fire, or is the owner the kind of guy who puts his boots away? Are the couches scuffed, or fresh and clean? There's some kind of trade-off that has to be made in any artistic representation of anything, of course--even in a threed lifeshow, you don't have time to look at everything--but the policy that Chekhov and Aristotle are advocating is one of industrial efficiency. What they're saying is, "eliminate all non-essential details from the narrative."

The catch is, what makes a portion of any narrative "essential"? Easy--it's predetermined. It's 20/20 hindsight. It's a world without Free Will; it's characters without agency; it's a place where things exist only because they have a purpose, and are meant to play a larger role (including red herrings or deliberately innocuous throwaway details meant to distract readers already familiar with earlier iterations of the game). This produces unrealistic, incomplete, bad, and morally wrong narratives, because those narratives then don't represent viable living worlds, but fantasies of [the bad kind of] death. They're narratives of authority, where the viewer/reader knows that everything which is mentioned, or which appears onscreen, has been selected, not for the purpose of accurately representing the reality of the character/setting, but to further a plot purpose. The end result of this process is viewer/reader "cheating," where savvy viewers can guess what's going to happen based on the lines given screen-time (unless they get tricked by a crossword-crafting screenwriter who left a clue only to misdirect you down a different path of the formula). Modern, post-modern, and post-post-modern-whatever literati consider foreshadowing so damn important because it's proof that a plot was planned in advance, by creators who were using characters as agency-less pawns meant to go through the motions that would create the desired scenes.

Vis-à-vis setting, some of this has changed in TV and movies. Budgets are available, now, to pay teams of artists and set designers to create and arrange backgrounds down to the umpteenth detail. In novels, that hasn't changed--most western "readers" don't have the patience to read descriptions of anything that isn't integral to the plot, and pages cost money, so cut it out. In movies and television, then, the time constraint replaces the pages constraint. Everyone can stare stupidly at a screen, and it's comparatively cheap to throw a lot of details into the set. The scenes that are chosen, however, are chosen--like setting description in the realm of literature--to further plot. Pointless conversation doesn't exist, so when you see a TV in the background of an early scene, and the newscaster is talking about how the new sports stadium will be opening in a week, you know the final confrontation is going to be held in that stadium. Gun on the wall, remember? Even in the "finest cinema," there can be no pointless scenery. The camera can spend two minutes watching a leaf on the water, not because the leaf was there, but because "setting the mood" was important, in-between the fight scene and the "moving out" scene.

In life and art, this is a tragedy of epic proportions. In real life, we don't automatically know which details are important. If we're walking out the front door, and the rock we looked at last night is slightly shifted near where the car is parked, we don't always recognize that as a sign that the mob has planted a car bomb. But if the camera zooms in on that rock (the same way it did in the scene last night), then we know one of two things:

1) The mob planted the car bomb, and bumped the rock on their way out, or

2) The mob didn't plant the car bomb, and it was your drunken next door neighbor who bumped the rock, but the hero is clearly concerned because of how he noticed the shifted rock.

That's all great, but what if it isn't a mob movie? Did your next door neighbor still bump that rock a little bit? If you never have the time to consider any of these things, you're not smelling the roses, living life to its fullest, or learning anything about how the world really works. If that rock is only ever shown or written about in a mob story, then whenever you see a rock, you know something's up with the rock or the character--nothing is ever "not up," because if it was, you wouldn't be sitting there eating Junior Mints, you'd be going home to watch Seinfeld reruns. Who has the time to care about the unofficial?

Yes, a slightly-shifted rock is a really boring example, but what about the little conversation you had with the cute checker at the grocery store? Do we have the patience to include that conversation even if the checker isn't (1) a disguised mob assassin, (2) your romantic fallback after you break off your current relationship, or (3) revealing to you innocuously, during the conversation, that the new stadium will be opening up next week?

Practical Applications of Narrative Structure

Manhattan and Hollywood, like Carnegie and Ford, want dull, heartless efficiency, so the "unnecessary" parts of everything have been removed. Now entertainment is as plastic as the lives it inspired, because no one wants to experience vicariously things that aren't "advancing" a "plot." And as a result, they're not able to process those things in their own lives anymore, either. We're falling in love with those we don't know, fetishizing the tiniest details of Batman's costume, but unable to take twenty minutes to pick through Gotham's streets when nothing at all is happening.

WMD in Iraq are Chekhov's Gun. Get it? The masses' susceptibility to the inanities of real-world realpolitik is fostered by elite thoughtform weapons that train human brains to become bored with details and to follow only authoritarian narratives. The reason everyone is so stupid is because they've been taught to be. They can't be any better than the stories they're told, and once their neural pathways have been designed to follow bad plots, all of life becomes those very cliches. (Pattern-molding is far superior to iconography as far as controlling conscious behavior at this stage.) Presidents, wars, the rich and the poor--all of it. Fantasy creators don't have time to fully flesh out their "magic system," nor science fiction creators their technology, because viewers and readers won't tolerate it, and they won't tolerate it because they've been raised to believe in structured lives without details. That's why so few people can understand the relatively simple actions of the Federal Reserve, or why dead baby pictures fail to move them. It's not that they're projectively stupid, because they can do IT, and it's not that they're inhumane, because they can genuinely cry over other "main characters" in their lives. Instead, it's that bad stories have reshaped their gray matter into a form that can no longer process as important things that don't make it into storyboard. Attempts to "educate" people--even by showing them piles of direct proof within sources that they themselves have defined as reliable--fail, because the proles aren't making decisions based on reason, authority, morals, or even popularity. They're being guided by the sense of ethereal purpose in the simple plots they've learned to prefer. Criticizing drone collateral is like criticizing Luke for blowing up any independent contractors who might've been on the Death Star--it's a regrettable, but absolutely necessary consequence, and there's a party afterwards. Even talking about the subject is just a joke, because it's the lives of offscreen people, who by definition never become important and simply don't matter. "I don't like a lot of what Obama's done, but there's just no way to change it." Because it's the plot.

The massive power that corporate news, mainstream advertising, and political leaders have is that they are defined as "characters," so their words and actions mean infinitely more than people who aren't even in the book--even if that means 10 million Congolese who actually are, in the real world, dying. Caring about the Congolese, then, means--at least in part--trying to fix that gray matter. As this one said before:
Crap like Fifty Shades of Grey is among the most subversive pieces of elite propaganda, whether they know it or not. The battle against Transformers, Justin Bieber, and Lil Wayne is, in many aspects, the battle to save the world.
Narrative structure has been the most powerful elite tool for millennia, because narrative structure has confined the most basic element of human thought conception into those very narrative boundaries. People are smart, because they can use computers, design computers, and build rocketships, but they're stupid, because for all their glorious technical feats, they are being controlled by an aspect of the somnatic, faux-powerless humanities. The liberal arts are much reviled as "worthless" by Earth 2014 social critics, yet the liberal arts were the gentleman's education during the formation of modernism; a liberal arts degree was how one got a high-paying job in the mid-upper echelons of society. All those worthless majors taught previous generations of thinkers how to control STEM dunces with nothing more than a few bad sitcoms.

(Those who fantasize about "starting civilization over" would run into this problem, were their wishes realized. All the elites could vanish tomorrow, but their most important poison--their thousands of years of narrative structure--would still control the minds of most of the survivors. And so the same story would be told again. That's why genuine grassroots attempts to "mount alternatives" inevitably fail: in attempts to pitch their ideas to a marketplace of idiots, rebels are forced to simplify their message into soundbites, eliminate complicated details, and work from there. And in so doing, they bolster the system. Not bolster in a dramatic, cheap-sellout sense, but rather, a literal, sad/unwitting sense. Those rebels who make themselves characters in the plot, even as villains--McVeigh, Kaczynski, bin Laden--gain an eerie power over a world of people who think they're living in a 120-minute theater. As a tragihumorous aside-aside, what Saddam Hussein was trying to do was to become a non-character, to withdraw from the movie to spare his life. Unfortunately for him, the posse needed a head in the noose.)

In living our lives, we're sometimes forced to spend time with characters who (1) don't recur, (2) don't appear at all important to our plot, even on our deathbeds, and (3) take up a lot of time and come into full camera focus. In movies and books, by contrast, we can immediately tell who is important, because the full-body pan and four-minute screen-time conversation (movie) or half-page physical description with some clever metaphors (book) is reserved only for people who are conveying important information or who will recur. If we spend that much time noticing others who aren't important, the story is too long, and everyone quits. In the world of scripted narrative, therefore, we can maximize our "being entertained" time by disregarding anyone who doesn't have that level of importance, meaning that we're trained to not form meaningful relationships with people who aren't instantly presented to us as worthwhile. The "decline" of society that we all observe in some form is spawned by television, although not because of the net time people spend watching it. Rather, it's the content, the message being sent, that makes it harmful.

The neural pathways built by Chekhov's Gun tell us that when the authors of society say there's a gun, someone must be planning to use it. (An unmentioned gun, accordingly, must be unimportant.) The thing upon which entertainment is focused is important, while side details are not. Millions of people can squeal about militarism and lobbyists, but the planet's narrative structure doesn't allow those things to be viewed with the importance they actually hold--we focus on the gun mounted on the wall, and never look in the closet for the guy with the knife, because the plot doesn't call for it. Our stupefied reliance on the screenwriter tells us that the story will be controlled by the one telling it, and that we are agency-less, powerless creatures. Rhetoric, not guns, makes sheeple.

Take any Disney movie as an easy example. Not because of feminism, or racism, or any of that--what Disney does so well is to train children not to think; to be dumb and obedient. We can watch a feisty princess defy an overblown dunce-patriarchy for 90 minutes, and be tricked into thinking, "Ooh, this is sending a good message about an individual's independence!" But we'd be wrong. The poison is hidden in plain sight in the unnatural simplicity of plot. Disney is a brutal, brilliantly efficient factory, where plot structure is hammered into the head with maximum speed. Feisty girl chafes against social restrictions, demonstrated by a few blurted interactions with parents/guardians or Girls Who Just Don't Understand; brazen boy chafes against social restrictions, demonstrated by a few blurted interactions with authority figures or Lascivious Boys; villains and meddling side characters begin a chain of events that drives them together, comic relief crashes onto the scene, and, like a storybook with a page limit, happy ending. Disney's evil genius is so advanced that it can produce movies which head-on tackle fundamental social constructions--like Pocahontas, which has hints of anti-imperialism and bank greed, and Beauty and the Beast, which has an excellent, incisive critique of fear- and warmongering--while still dispersing the toxin that keeps the next generation of children from being able to recognize that President Hillary is just a less-attractive version of Governor Ratcliffe. While characters scream and sing about independence and human decency, people are led to believe in lives of crammed plot points, predictable progression, simple motives, and obvious baddies.

Political dissidents, wrong or right, are irrelevant whether or not they possess, shall we say, "facts." In fact, they're even less relevant when they do possess them. A real dissident isn't in the theater saying, "That movie sucked!" or "That movie rocked!" Rather, she's the one who says, "I wish they'd spent another half hour with the brother's character." But we don't have time for that. We're in the business of producing structures. Structures that make sense, with beginnings and endings and things that happen because they were supposed to. There are no false starts or dead ends; simply an orderly progression from good to better to bestest. God bless the broken road; it was ordained to happen; you had no choice, and neither did they.

Prepped by narrative, our stunted imaginations leave us unable to imagine breaking out. We all know, in some sense, that we're headed toward a dystopian future, where a few hyper-urban cities of lavish penthouses and indescribable street poverty exist only behind walls that keep out the irradiated rabble who have it even worse, and yet, despite this knowledge, we read on. Linear media, linear lives. Detail is irrelevant, retcon is the memory hole, and even one Macguffin is the memetic equivalent of pretending Larry Silverstein is just unexpectedly lucky when it comes to leases. Deus ex machina, indeed.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The J. Robertson Affair

"Sources close to...the Commissioner's office told The Meme Monday that Jimwah had been accused of using performance enhancing genes to grow larger and faster than the average person, giving him a decided advantage in [the game.] What effect, if any, this will have on Jimwah's own decision to have children, and with whom, remains to be seen, but for now, the league has issued a directive mandating that all licensed National Collegiate divisions test their players for conformance to the Reasonable Genetics Code. 'The RGC remains the best protection professional athletics has in this country,' spokesperson Ronald Tweed told General News this morning.

Attorneys for Mr. Robertson argued last week that his DNA was 'all natural,' going before a Seattle judge to make the case that Jimwah was actually shorter and weaker than many of his direct relatives born prior to the date of the widespread availability of genetic enhancement. Residual tracing techniques, applied to a series of reconstituted cremains, and even a study of exhumed bones leading as far back as the Flame Era, provided a 'likely evidentiary assumption,' his attorneys stated, that Jimwah Robertson's muscle composition was of natural origin. He's 'simply a better player,' one member of his defense team quipped, minutes before he was attacked by the Commissioner's canine response unit. When The Meme asked Jimwah about the assault the next day, he was quoted as saying, 'I don't know why this [affair] needs so many...lawyers. Where [are] those guys coming from, anyway? [It's surprising]! I thought it was gonna just be one of those [professionals], and then I'm out six million bucks and they're [digging up] my grand-moms!'

The Commissioner's office quickly fired back with a scathing indictment of Robertson's..."

Monday, October 27, 2014

Plethora of Tools

Americans never do just one thing anymore. They watch television while they eat, they listen to music while they drive, they read while they text, they blah, blah, blah. That's all very well and good as far as outrospective social criticism goes, because it has no real utility or truth. It's not our fault. It's because of all these gadgets that we can't concentrate. Clearly, it's not our own doing. Blame the Plethora. The Plethora is the source of all ills, no doubt. Well, what if someone else can text while dictating while showering while watching TV while ordering a replacement water heater?

What do you mean, "anymore"? When was this nebulous time when every activity was undertaken with the dedication Zen monks tell you they have when their mysteriously detail-lite works are translated for western bestsellers? Okay, so was live music always performed in perfect silence? When people went to the opera house, were none of them whispering to each other? Were some of them worried about social maneuvering, tomorrow's meals, watching the Duke's reaction, feeling ill, or losing circulation from their corsets, and thereby not able to put their fullest of full attentions on the show? How pure was their activity? If they watched a play, was there a laugh track from other people in the audience, unfairly distracting?

Americans never do just one thing anymore. They listen to the radio while they relax, they talk while they harvest corn, they read while they drink their coffee. Those lousy radio manufacturers! Book printers! Ruining everything!

Maybe you could still have a good conversation if you weren't so driven to blame the lift for your expanding waistline. One can read a book without forgetting how to tell a new story. The development of the tongue is not to blame for why you're bored at the Degas exhibit, nor will cutting out the tongue solve your beef with impressionism.

Americans never do just one thing anymore. They talk while they smoke their pipes. They think about hunting while they lie in their blankets. They look at the clouds when watching the sheep.

Yes, by God, let there be depth. The first step toward any kind of "thinking in depth" is to not blame the server upgrade for your failure to reserve attention for other things. You were the one who bought the damn iPhone, remember? You could throw it away if you wanted to. If you wanted to prove a point, that's what you'd do. If you didn't need to prove anything, you'd still be able to pocket it and enjoy the symphony by summoning the same clarity of mind that you could've even when there was a mammoth hunt scheduled for the next day. The problem is internal.

That makes for terrible criticism, though. No, instead, let us simplify. Simplify! Throw all these things away and balm ourselves in cave bears and sabretoothed cats, from back when life was simple and the thatch had to be redone every spring and men were men and women were women and you could finally focus, focus, on good conversation, because the foul Plethora wasn't there, always ruining everything we do and it's not our fault we must purge these gadgets and return to an imaginary proto-time to be free!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Copsurance: Donuts, Safety, Genocide, and Money

Mobile Administrative

Cops perform a lot of social functions, to be sure. Many of them even do the things they believe they're supposed to do. They provide mobile flashing light barriers and clumsy traffic redirection at accident scenes; their constant roving about the place allows them to call in obtrusive roadkill sightings to the Department of Transportation for pickup much sooner than a DoT agent would otherwise go by an area; and, they take reports if a large non-human predator wanders out of the forest/hills and gets sighted in someone's backyard.

Let's call those things "Mobile Administrative" functions: things that aren't wholly bad (even if generally clumsy and expensive in their social effect), but things which could be done much better and more efficiently by people who aren't armed, aren't wearing body armor and command presence, and aren't licensed, trained, or expected to use deadly force. These are things that could almost always be more efficiently taken care of by general-purpose staff, whether in the public or private sector, even within America's current bloated model.

Cop Stuff

Cops also do the things they probably should do, like show up when some confused drunk is screaming at store cashiers, and escort the drunk out of the building. They show up to domestic disputes where there is a gun in the house, a couple's been screaming at itself for hours, and the neighbors have legitimate reasons to be concerned. And they go up to those scary guys who've been hanging around the drugstore parking garage for three hours, talk to them, and subtly and effectively imply that they should disperse, a pair of cops accomplishing, in 25 minutes of $48/hour combined, a task that would otherwise involve the facilities manager, who is 73 and really only makes the coffee in the mornings and sweeps the elevator at night. The prevention of citizen "self help" in this area is invaluable, because without it, the store manager and a couple of burly produce stockers have to go confront the screaming drunk, and Harry From Across The Street has to get his sawed-off and tell Sam and Martha to stop hollering, and casual background brawls become a constant part of everyone's day--even in the upscale suburbs, because bums and drunk teenagers can appear anywhere.

In every situation in which cops get involved, they're a reminder of state power, which is miserable. They know their badges make them a feared, loathed target; even the sweet old lady who is eminently grateful to see them near the checkout counter remembers, through her amygdala, that feeling in her stomach from her last speeding ticket 8 years ago. The associative state power is helpful when angry drivers are waiting for some idiot traffic forensics guys to finish their calculations of tire marks in a serious injury accident; the license to kill cuts down, however inappropriately, on upset motorists attempting to climb the medium and find their own way around the backup. Yes, much more of the time than not, that state power causes the cops and traffic analysts to swagger around the scene for an hour longer than necessary, feeling very important, but it's at least a marginal social benefit that, when work actually needs to be done, the presence of some beefy white guys with guns allows the work to be done with drivers confining their rage to the insides of their own vehicles.

More importantly for this section, the reminder of state power helps when cops are doing "Cop Stuff" functions. When Sam and Martha see the lights outside, all of that nasty state power really does get through to them. Plenty of Sams and Marthas still act like assholes, but almost always respond more cooperatively to the cops than they would to their angry neighbor with a shotgun. And that function comes with a price that cops pay--they have to be the ones to get out of the car and approach the house, and sometimes, some moron shoots at them. Not often, but sometimes, and there's an element of real strength and pride there, in being the one to walk up to that house knowing you have to face Sam and his NRA stickers and his three aggressive German Shepherds. It's easy to dismiss cops as worthless tools, if you don't know what it's like to be the one inside the blue suit walking at Sam at 9:45PM after neighbors reported shots being fired and you've read about Sam's history of paranoid delusions and armed robbery and assault on prison guards. The anarchist fantasyland fails to realize the difference between a cop response to this kind of situation, and the response of a concerned community, which almost inevitably becomes Harry From Across The Street killing three dogs, one Sam, and accidentally spraying Martha with buckshot, then helping himself to a TV and the liquor cabinet and starting a fire on his way out. Cop response really does beat neighbor response in those situations, in terms of lower aggregate death count and higher chance of a non-violent resolution. The stigma of the blue line makes Sam angry, but his amygdala dampens his response, whereas if he thinks Harry From Across The Street is coming over, he might take up sniper position in the attic and start laying out anyone he sees in the street.

Even worse for the cops, when you get to the house (or the grocery store, or wherever), you have to appear confident, talk to the morons who are making the trouble, and all too often, actually touch them, pulling their stinky, scabby, writhing bodies away from the cash register, cuffing them, getting their hepatital or syphilitic sweat on your face and uniform, and then letting them sit in the back of your car screaming at you for the next half hour as you drive them in for processing. Everyone knows you're out there, so no one has to be tough for themselves--the store manager can hide in his office with the loose cash drawers, call the cops, and wash his hands of the situation, rather than worrying, every day, that he might have to physically defend his cashiers on the spot when a late-night customer gets too rowdy.

In an ideal society, you still need cops for situations like this. It's nice to think that the community could respond better, but some variation on "cops" is how you accomplish that. Which member of the neighborhood should be expected to go over there when Martha screams that she's being hit, or that Sam should put down the knife? Yes, in an ideal society, almost all of us are physically fit, reasonably confident, and not looking to "prove" anything by rescuing Martha from Sam. However, we get tired. We get hungry. We go on vacations. We spend a lot of time as weak, underweight children, and a lot of time as weak, aging elders. Maybe we're all trained in basic hand-to-hand, but have we done extensive practice in disarming knife-wielding assailants? "Cop Stuff" needs to be done by some form of cop; like "mass transportation," it's the safest and most efficient way of accomplishing the function.

Social Control

And of course, despite what most of them think, cops perform the "Social Control" functions. They know that they can assess and judge people based on socioeconomic status, so they enforce the informal caste system. They harass perceived white trash and blacks everywhere, and turn up the intensity as home values rise. They pick on people who look unsavory or homeless, sweep nicer areas to keep them, inappropriately and unfairly, clean of perceived undesirables, and use deadly force to, sometimes arbitrarily and sometimes as-directed by local elites, forcibly deport or execute any given set of untouchables. They act politely in better zip codes, all the way down to immediate hand-on-gun group frisking in others, and they mix the two in big cities, desperately trying to suburbanize nicer city blocks by intimidating people who are just walking through. Particularly in the American Confederacy, but eerily everywhere, they attack and murder blacks like it's formally on the agenda, and use victimless drug crimes to felonize and perpetually de-vote millions of people, primarily black, to ensure political stasis, prison profits, and maintain the general clime of fear, always destroying certain communities to keep wages and social demands down (e.g., it's better if blacks march about access to chlorinated, fluoridated water, than it is if they're marching about access to clean water).

There's no other way to view it: either blacks need extermination, or America has been the same ever since the Triangular Trade. Cops have murdered too many black children, too systematically, too consistently, both in the present and over the past hundred years, without any punishment and with large financial reward; there is no way to claim it's circumstantial. Pick one: either (1) more recently African-derived people are subhumans who need to be kept in check through regular state murder, or (2) the American government is the Ku Klux Klan, so thoroughly enmeshed in murdering blacks that it's willing to make a visually-black guy the Grand Dragon to perpetuate the system.

You'd like to pretend it's (3). Make-believe option (3) makes you feel good. You'd like to pretend your choices include: (3) because of a long and tragic history of racism, and inadequate education and troglodytic social policy, cops are more likely to view African Americans as suspects, more likely to feel threatened by them, and more likely to respond with inappropriate force. African Americans are more likely to be poor and live in bad neighborhoods, where they suffer a disproportionate effect of violent police responses.

Bullshit. Completely ridiculous. Cops have been taking sensitivity training for years. Municipalities have been paying out multi-million-dollar settlements to victims' families, over and over, without the voters or taxpayers or city managers ever caring enough to change police kill-policy. Cops get paid leave and witness protection and golden parachute retirements when they too-controversially murder someone. Powerful black mayors and DAs have completely revamped hiring and education policies. Juries of mixed races levy huge punishments and death on black offenders, across the entire country, not just in the Confederacy.

Even black and Hispanic cops join in the murder of blacks. A SWAT officer whose parents immigrated from Guatemala, and who is half black and lives in a black neighborhood and never benefited from slavery, is just as likely to kill a black baby with a flash-bang grenade while raiding the wrong house for marijuana possession; a black female patrol officer is just as likely to tase a stooping, chubby old black man standing on the street corner smoking--giving him a heart attack that they'll blame on "drug use and age"--because he might be the "tall, muscular black teenager" who robbed a convenience store two hours earlier. There's something deliberately systematic going on there--something that has absolutely nothing to do with what you'd prefer to believe. Yes, it's "racism" or "race realism," if you like, but not in the "critical analysis of Othello" way. It's actual, real, "official policy to kill and kill consistently for a hundred years" racism. It has nothing to do with movies, TV, or the the vaguely-formed memories of "American slavery" that almost everyone is too uneducated to really be aware of anyway, and it has everything to do with race war and guns and clubs and tasers and armored vehicles. Most of these people can't read or write, they're only vaguely aware of "the Declaration of Independence" or "Abraham Lincoln," and they simply don't have the perspective to be suffering from all the advanced racial misperceptions that you'd prefer they be suffering from.

I know. I'm sorry. I know you'd prefer to think there's something different between 2014 and 1870. I know you'd like to blame all those murders on either "uncivilized man-chimps" or "a nebulous mystery behind our outmoded social perceptions that justifies me not caring so long as I believe in my heart that I care and am willing to discuss these contentious issues to acknowledge the grievances of the black community," but no. It's just the Klan.


All of those cop activities are important, and necessary to the functioning of current society, yes. But we have to ask ourselves: is it cost-justified? Even considering civil asset forfeiture and the massive profits from private prisons, cops still require other bullshit, like redirected school funding to "drug programs," and "civil traffic violations," just to pay their overhead. It's all very well and good for them to be out there keeping the population constantly cowed and rationally afraid for their lives, but picture some dolla bills being rubbed together, and ask yourself, "Who is really paying for this?" Is it worth it to spend that much just to kill all those black people? It's necessary--elites need those drug laws and race wars to ravage society and stymie humanity's progress--but elites would prefer to hoard money. They don't fix bridges, develop reliable transportation networks, or do any of the other things that they'd do if they really cared about making society sustainable, even for their own benefit. So what makes them willing to spend so much on this team of guys who drives around all day wearing special suits and writing parking tickets?

Insurance, baby. You know the FIRE sector, right? The missing externality here is insurance. What do cops really do with their time? They serve as the public-funded arms of insurance companies.

You know how much cops complain about paperwork, right? Just like doctors. "Oh, why is so much of this job filing bullshit paperwork?" Well, here's what patrol units spend the majority of their time doing:

1) Finding the dead bodies of sick or elderly persons, filling out paperwork about the death, supervising the parties who formally verify the death, and using the death to search the residence and surrounding area for contributing factors or other interesting stuff. Taking it back to the station, filing it, entering it into databases, then following up with the victims in detail about the extent of the loss.

2) Taking reports of burglary, private property damage, or domestic disturbances, writing it up, taking it back to the station, filing it, entering it into databases, then following up with the victims in detail about the extent of the loss.

3) Checking up on commercial property damage, loss of stock, or employee theft, writing it up, taking it back to the station, filing it, entering it into databases, then following up with the victims in detail about the extent of the loss.

4) Responding to car crashes, from fender-benders to twelve-car multiple fatality deaths, specially arranging the scene, supervising investigators, taking extensive records of vehicular and bodily damage, taking it back to the station, filing it, entering it into databases, then following up with the victims in detail about the extent of the loss.

5) Spending billions of long, aimless man-hours trolling the streets of the entire country, from Times Square to that old dirt road in Utah, punching license plate numbers into dashboard computers and verifying that insurance and registration are current. Pulling over drivers to verify license, registration, and vehicle ownership, rolling through neighborhoods to eyeball foreign plates. Checking cracked windshields and broken taillights, writing tickets to raise insurance rates...

...aaaaaand, that's it. The primary reason America developed this eerie, ridiculous, full-time professional police force was so that banks and insurance companies could use "public safety" as a justification to have armed, 100% taxpayer-subsidized employees constantly patrolling their customers' neighborhoods, ready to act as free, primary claims responders for the insured nation. Drug and prison cartels might control 49% of the police, but the slight edge goes to insurance--cops spend far more time performing bureaucratic functions for the major insurers than they do fighting crime, or even harassing blacks.

Want to fake your death to get your family life insurance? Nope--private insurance companies have frontline armed investigators, medical and forensic specialists, and fleets of cars in your zip code, all to check up on whether they should be fulfilling their private contract. Something get taken from your apartment? Here come the cops to take a police report, without which the insurance company won't look into things or pay benefits. That's the real financial value of "state power" to the insurance company--the things we'd be willing to say to some insurance-company asshole, we're not willing to say to police, because of their known proclivity for beating and killing.

Think about the railroads, the banks, or the highway networks, here. In each of those situations, private companies bribed (or became) government officials in order to take public resources--land or taxpayer funds--for private use. Railroads got free land and immigration policy and subsidized strikebreaking services, in order to corporate-welfare their way into a massively successful business; later developers and car manufacturers did the same, using "the public good" to take money from those who work hard and give it to builders who created a nationwide web of "streets" and "highways" that could be used to justify individual automobile sales. And banks, as amazingly brazen as always, got to take taxpayer money in order to fund ways to loan imaginary dollars to taxpayers for them to use in commerce. Fun!

Cops are the same, both pharmacologically and financially. They bust up pot dealers so the Ritalin dealers can control the territory, and they show up when someone stole your TV, so that the insurance company can sell its product without having to pay, by itself, the costs of having its own employees investigate its own customers' claims. That's what all the "paperwork" is, that the NYPD officers always get to vocally complain about. Insurers are generous enough to allow us to use the cops we pay for to deal with crazy people, when they have spare time in their shifts between taking burglary reports (that they never investigate beyond verifying loss value), verifying car insurance coverage, and handing out rate-justifying tickets.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Sum Totals of Plot

To Lessons Learned, Anonymous replies:
Somebody, somewhere, 'calculated' that there are only up to 36 total story lines/basic plots to be found in any culture, any literature ever. Maybe that's all we got. Now what?
...which is a far better setup to the relevant issue than this one's aforementioned whining, or this one's list of hypothetical plots from aforementioned post. And because it's a far better setup, it segues us to where we should've been headed to begin with: faith-based belief or disbelief in creativity, and the utility thereof (I see what you did there).

Anonymous' point, "Now what?" is of the penultimate pertinence; it foregones the conclusion by assuming that there are only, oh, 36, or 5, or a hundred million, plots. And to some extent--an extent of only marginal utility--the conclusion is accurate, as a result of the versatility of language. There is, of course, only one plot: "Something happens." This plot applies 100% to all books, except for those blank books about "Sex after 40" that you buy in the airport novelty shop to give to your friend who turned 43 (you forgot about it on her fortieth birthday, when her unwrapping it would've been much funnier for party guests, oh, why couldn't you have flown to Tampa that year?), in which situations the emptiness is itself the plot. Either that, or you argue that there are two possible plots, "Something happens" and "Nothing happens."

Here is where we all groan as this one types the devil is in the details, right? In a sense, but not in the usual sense. Everything here is about what we call "details," so in the instant situation, that saying isn't a cop-out. Copper and beryllium and hydrogen are identical except they're not, because the same building blocks in different arrangements make things that demonstrate that structural detailing is a higher form of existence than mere "existence." Yes, it's a stupidly obvious point that things can be different, but they can also be the same despite an inundation of similar details, which is why retelling Shakespeare's Hamlet against a backdrop of the International Space Empire(sic)'s campaign against Rigel 23 is still just another soulless copy.

So, we're all on the same page, right? Details can both sufficiently differentiate, and merely conceal. All plots can be condensed to the same source, e.g., "Something happens," and yet, within that formula, more perceptive minds can glean value from different kinds of similar happenings.


The destruction of creativity, the industrialization of making things, is deliberate, and evil. People who use linguistic tricks to compartmentalize story--as though it is dazzlingly clever to point out that all people, no matter how different, are made of roughly identical carbon molecules and water; or, that everything on the periodic table is made up of the same electrons, et cetera--are making the argument, by implication, that life is equally worthless. If there's nothing new under the sun, that includes you, your romance, any potential accomplishments you might think you have, and the next million years of history. The only reason the argument works, ironically, is that the details of what they're talking about (make-believe v. real) make the implication "everything is standard" beguiling enough that it can slip past your bullshit detectors and work its tendrils into your sense of self. If someone told you, "Your life has no meaning," you might resist. If someone told you, "All plots have been done before," you're willing to let it slide--even though it's the same message, namely, that you are and always were an existential rerun. Your life is a plot, and you are a character (maybe not the character/plot, but a character/plot). Why live if it's already been done before, and can never be done differently? "Something happens." Why bother?

There's a sense of despair upon hearing that there are only 36 plots, or that Shakespeare or someone else has already written every possible kind of plot, because it hits your subconscious with the implication, "You are not special." Worse, if you are not special, then it means no one else is special, either, which means nothing is special, which means this is all just a giant suffering machine. The medically inclined like to call it "narcissism" when someone wants to be special. In fact, the greatest pain incumbent upon those who face a hypothetical lack of specialness is felt on behalf of everyone else: it's easy to contemplate not being special, so long as something is special, ergo you can step in front of a car to save a child, even if you know that you won't be able to feel warm feelings at the celebratory dinner later on, because you'll be dead. We may gasp and recoil more from a stabby movie than we do from an apocalyptic survival one, but the empathetic despair of all those billions of lost lives and collectively bleak futures sinks in way deeper than merely being killed by a guy in a mask. A person who'd struggle to survive a home invasion will commit suicide over War of the Worlds, because it's not actually about individual survival. We fear a nuclear war that destroys civilization, but leaves us alone with sixty years of freeze dried food and old DVDs, yet we drive across town without particularly thinking about traffic accidents that leave us brain dead.

Anti-plot strategies are a coordinated message of hopelessness. Bad books, movies, and TV shows teach us that nothing is special or lasting, except for temporary sensation, thereby achieving a memetic victory for everdeath. After enough years of crappily strung-together vignettes called "movies," with factorized cliche characters and settings, it's worked--most westerners don't actually expect anything good, and more, they've constricted their standards even more than they have in regards to their elected representatives (sic): they have come to stop believing that anything better is possible. So they mock the idea that new things can exist; they watch more battling robots and bending bikinis, and they actively encourage themselves in the pursuit of mild variations on simple themes. Their intelligentsia discuss how there really is nothing new across the starfield, and the resulting dearth of actual news or actual entertainment becomes a self-justifying cycle of proof that it's all been done before. Blah blah, planned obsolescence, yada yada, what satire used to mean.

Rings of Adversity

How can there be new stories, or good stories, and what differentiates them, in an objective, non-emotional way, from old stories or bad stories?

Start with Lord of the Rings. Frodo faces great adversity and overcomes it. He squeals and runs away from big monsters while manly men defend him. Gondor fights orcs, man against man; Frodo fights Sauron in a metaphysical way, man against man; the fellowship argues about the use of the ring, man against man. There's a big journey and some battles and some cool stuff, but in the end, Frodo wins, the One Ring is destroyed, and Sauron loses.

The basic theme is, "If you try really hard, and don't give up even when things seem overwhelming, you can win." There are a lot of other themes in there, also, so let's get them out in the open for fun before we go on:

1) Tainted goods: if someone is established as evil by an all-powerful and benevolent force, you should not use the evil someone's methods, even in the service of good, because it will always lead back to evil.

2) Pastoral values: simple and/or weak people can accomplish tasks that great people cannot, if they try hard.

3) Playing god: building life like building a tool leads to evil, depersonalizing the life that is created with horrible results.

4) Stupid guards: faceless armies based on subservience rather than personal relationships are easy to trick.

5) Generic friendship: if you have a good buddy, you can accomplish more than you'd be able to on your own.

6) Playing god 2: treating the natural world too much like an exploitable resource results in a natural backlash.

7) Grand pattern/forgiveness: no matter how despicable the scum, it may have a purpose beyond what your interests can currently perceive.

8) Compromise: in the face of destruction, enemies must become friends in order to survive.

9) Power corrupts: people who want power are often bad.

There are hundreds, hundreds upon hundreds, of godawful fantasy novels that think they are written in the same vein as Tolkien. They have all the surface dressing, and they appear the same to plenty of simpletons. They have swords, magic, elves, trolls, lords and ladies, palaces, forbidding swamps, mountains of fire, and despair. They have power-hungry bad guys and idealistic good guys, sword battles, internal languages that bear an uncanny resemblance to Latin or Gaelic or Greek. But they trim down their themes drastically, to "pastoral values" and "power corrupts," with an occasional "generic friendship" or "compromise." It's the same to them, because they never caught much of the meaning in the first place. All they saw was swords, dresses, male bonding, and plucky princesses.

An objective quality is discernible in creations in spite of efforts to relativize them. As in lives and galaxies, things can be created and refined. The endless succession of dunces with spaceships and magic swords may throw in rough incest and live disembowelments in an attempt to capture an illusion of increased development, but the underlying thematic components remain elementary. As a result, even the simple WALL-E for kids is far more advanced than Game of Thrones for adults, even if it has far less graphic violence and no "adult" situations.

How So Quality?

How so quality? Tolkien again: the value of his work is not just in the coolness (if you care) of running around a proto-medieval wonderland casting spells, killing goblins, and waving potentially phallic symbols. That's a part of it, to be sure, like costume design in a play. Yet it is only a superficial one. On its own, it's pulp; it's necessary, but not sufficient, except at very low stages of development. What makes Tolkien far more advanced than most western narratives is its higher degree of thematic truths. Saruman, for example, is a genetic engineer. He creates the Uruk-hai (the bigger, Africanized orcs) in loveless vats in order to achieve unthinking supersoldiers. He breeds for the desired qualities of his offspring, rather than divorcing his flawed mind from the reproductive process, and even though he realizes it is "a ruined, terrible form of life," he is so caught up in his lust for power that he continues.

Now, it is a great lesson to learn that, "If you don't give up, you can achieve positive results against overwhelming odds." It's not that most western creators are saying nothing of value. Rather, they are saying something that is of value to five-year-olds. And they are saying that, and only that, to western adults, who are so stunted that they feel they've learned what there is to know. A little kid can read about Frodo and be inspired to not give up hope even in the toxic valley below the boiling pyramid upon which rests the Eye of Yellen. So too with plenty of dreck about fighting ogres.

What has Tolkien done with his special black orcs? He's levied a strong criticism at the inbred British nobility; he's damned the English for their calculated marriages and deliberate, impartial, unnatural reproduction arrangements. He's criticized the western habit of scientifically breeding dogs, horses, livestock, and crops, and shown how the desire to control the creation of life by limiting change leads to ugly, diseased specimens that ultimately harm us. Decades ahead of his time, he's condemned the scientific future of precognitive eugenics, where we build our own tall, strong, obedient Uruk-hai--and he hid it all within a pretty droll description of elvish history.

That portion of the theme is a timeless wisdom. Someday many years from now, humans may learn that attempting to assemble artificial stellar nurseries results in similar consequences to their long-abandoned program of handpicking baby's appearance. They'll discover that trying to rush the process of matter compression leads to unstable blue or indigo stars that produce unreliable energy streams, then supernova in mere millions of years. The wise among them may use something like Tolkien to advise others of the folly of interfering in such reality-integral natural processes; they'll point out that building a house is one thing, building a living star another. The distinction between forging swords and forging Uruk-hai affirms the results of not properly resolving the unprovable differentiation between matter in possession of different stages of consciousness. (Much more simply put, that can be taken as meaning that our failure to identify what has a soul and what doesn't, and our willingness to try to create souls the way we create swords, leads to disaster.)

This kind of thing is what makes Tolkien's work more intelligent, useful, and valuable than other stories about swords and sorcery. He isn't just using his societies as parables for personal economic vendettas, but rather conveying a timeless moral that goes to the heart of the relationship between humans and creation: our direct limitation of potential during the process of life-creation leads to disaster. That can be applied in any time or culture, from 5,000 B.C. tribal chiefs killing defiant oxen while forcing docile oxen to breed, to 5,000 C.E. space admirals grafting orphans' souls into the endogenic dynamic-response systems on their prize battlecruisers. In either case, the situation turns out steadily worse for all involved, and in either case, the application of the timeless principle could have saved the day.

(What makes Tolkien's fractal analogy "art," rather than "philosophical thought experiment," is that the Uruk-hai experimentation derives from the independent agency of Saruman. Saruman's behavior is perfectly internally consistent within the boundaries of his pseudo-heavenly, pseudo-medieval life experience. He is not, for example (like the antagonists of so many argumentative social-engineering psy-ops "novels"), a cheap Communist transplanted into medieval Europe to prove the modern-day follies of western social services. His behavior is, instead, truly sourced. He doesn't dramatically torture side characters, speak Russian, carry around a copy of the elvish version of Mein Kampf, or even give a long speech at the end where he oversells the benefits of privatizing the genome. Instead, he's realistic, just like an evil wizard building upgraded orcs in that world would be. In the movies, he's given some face time to "tell" his story to the audience, providing an information shortcut, whereas in the books, it's just part of his back story: he wanted dumb, strong soldiers, so he had them magically bred. That internal consistency is what gives him utility to a timeless reader; what makes it extrapolable to the behavior of those evil wizards who actually do want to exert willpower over the bodies in which the next generation is allowed to live life.)

Western Europe created smallpox, and so many other great plagues, because it spent so many years interbreeding the dumbest, fattest, most compliant ungulates, then sleeping near them for warmth and building cuisines designed around a failed set of interbred hormones; east Asia and aboriginal America didn't create those great plagues, because they were feeding off a diverse body of actual living creatures, and being less obsessed with the fucking habits of their livestock. Western Europe built a society around individual possession of wheat, skimming short-term profits off the dying topsoil by raping the Earth with plows and poisons, while east Asia and aboriginal America communally cultivated rotating cycles of a broader variety of crops.

Ten thousand years later, its genomic history backup disc failing to load, the god-players may discover that they have irrevocably divorced themselves from cyclical reproduction. There is neither home nor joy left for the Maiar once they have turned their elves into orcs.


That argument--don't try to build souls or you'll cause great destruction--is an unpleasant one for scientism, so most people prefer not to see it. They just want to see the swords ringing and the Lady Feistalya's breasts made bare, ergo Earth 2014. Yet there, in a seemingly innocuous tale about swords, is the decisive critique of one of the many Great Tragedies. That is why critical thinking, deep reading, and complex narratives are being stifled. If you're stunted, you can own a collection of Peter Jackson DVDs, and just think, "Oooh, adventure and monsters." Or, "Oooh, adventure and monsters, and also perseverance and love and statues."

The thematic elements underlying who does what are what makes there be an infinite number of plots. Any number of heroes may battle monsters, and a few, even, "unnatural monsters," but the fall of Saruman into tube-breeding Uruk-hai is a universal principle that turns Frodo's walk through Mordor into a minor aside (since, if we're learning properly, we've long ago learned the lesson that those who seek to accumulate excessive power end up living in a hellish wasteland surrounded by stupid, vindictive security services). The character of the story line--heroes triumph over evil--changes. From that branch of plot appear two new shoots: (A)(1) heroes face an evil that adopts the power of creation, and (A)(2) heroes face an evil that has not adopted the power of creation. And that splitting, that evolution, makes each new twig, and each new flower, completely different from its predecessor. Perspective changes, verse expands, and the narrative becomes not only more detailed, internally consistent, and enjoyable, but also more useful. So, a 10-year-old reads a Dungeons & Dragons-licensed spinoff work, and learns, "By trying really hard, you can win, even against big monsters," and a teenager reads Tolkien and, hopefully, learns something more.

The malignant nature of limited-plot arguments, though, means that nothing moves beyond that level. If we allow the superficial similarity of "it has spaceships" or "it has people who work in this one place" to lure us into believing it's all the same, then nothing new is ever painted, because color is color. Entertainment corresponds, becoming increasingly simplified in line with the socially acceptable claim that nothing is new, so why bother trying?

No amount of clever verbiage can instill, in Shakespeare, any level of meaning greater than prepubescent lessons, nor make it meaningful as anything more than rambling introductory drivel. "When I'm unhappy, should I quit?" "If people don't like what I like, should I let them control my feelings?" Harry Potter has little to teach except, "blood will out," so it's an objectively terrible piece of somnatic propaganda. Yet because the preschool descriptions of being nice to your friends and working your hardest are included in the theme, it's viewed as positive. Generations of stunted adults see it as a pinnacle, like a bunch of patients in an insane asylum congratulating each other for completing a crayon-by-numbers. By all means, color in that page, but if you find Angels and Demons somewhere other than the "Young Young Adult" section, it's indicative of a major problem. And no, throwing in a few death scenes, sailor talk, or wet vaginas does not automatically turn preschool into doctoral, so put the Hustler away and start figuring out how to color inside the lines.

Ignorant innocents and savvy viles argue that there is nothing new under the sun, and that endlessly recycling primitive lessons about "trying hard" and "being nice" are the ultimate expressions that art can make, but this one knows better. The details of how that is taught--about how we're able to learn to think more deeply about what we're facing here--are built upon foundations of simplicity, but require much more than simplicity itself can offer.

More later.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lessons Learned

A hero faces immense adversity, yet comes to a resolution with some positive elements. We learn, "Don't give up. Good things can happen." Good. Very simple, but good.

A hero faces immense adversity, which adversity is made worse by the hero's own troubled relationship with her past. She overcomes her doubts and fears, and comes to a resolution with some positive elements. We learn, "Don't give up. Also, don't give up on ourselves." Good. Very simple, but good.

A hero faces immense adversity which has been caused in part from within her own tribe. She discovers that a small cabal of wicked individuals within the tribe has been perverting its greater principles. Side characters imply that the tribe is systematically flawed, but are proven wrong when the tribe rejoices at the downfall of the cabal. We learn, "The tribe is itself always good, as long as we ferret out the rare bad apple." Bad. Very simple, and very bad.

A group of heroes aggravates itself through personal differences, then puts them aside in service of a greater good. We learn, "You can put aside personal differences in service of a greater good." Good. Very simple, but good.

Okay, now we're past kindergarten. No, let's be generous--we're now in double-digits, as far as age goes. What does the future hold?

A hero has some interesting adventures, and then dies. Other heroes reflect on the death. We learn, "Life is touching." Good. Pretty simple, but good.

A hero has some interesting adventures, is mistreated, and then dies. Other heroes reflect on the mistreatment and on the death. We learn, "Life is touching, and mean people suck." Good. Pretty simple, but good.

A hero wants sex with someone, and either gets it or doesn't get it. Our senses are titillated. Fine. We learn, "Primal instincts can be compelling." Good enough. Pretty simple, but good. We repeat.

A hero wants to solve a crime, and solves it. We learn, "All kinds of people can commit crimes." Okay. We repeat. We learn, "Enough searching always turns up an accurate, verifiable result." We learn, "Suspicious, interrogative people are to be trusted." Incredibly simple. Incredibly terrible.

Okay, now we've just become a teenager. No, let's be generous. We're up to fif-teen. We're an adult made a rightless nonentity by a society that hates youth while pretending to exalt it; that exalts age while pretending to hate it. What does the future hold?

A hero faces immense adversity, yet comes to a resolution with some positive elements, against a backdrop of popular yet incorrect impressions of pastoral feudalism or aboriginally rugged hunting and gathering. We learn, "Don't give up. Good things can happen. Within a certain frame of reference, cultural tolerance is blessedly paramount, while outside that frame, cultural tolerance is a deadly evil." Meh. Sort of simple. Did the Ogobola Tribe really have to eat baby seals and molest captive prepubescents while dancing to hard house remixes inexplicably produced by handmade skin drums and didgeridoos? Was Lord Slothebaum's insistence on turning out the lieutenant for raping the parlor maid really proof that, deep inside, he had the heart and sensibilities of a 21st century Gender Studies postdoc?

A hero explores various facets of a thoroughly detailed space empire with a social, political, and military structure based on a mostly-accurate depiction of a mostly-inaccurate 1950s take on the Roman Empire. He faces immense adversity, yet comes to a resolution with some positive elements. We learn, "Uhh, I guess the consul uniforms they described in those combined seventeen paragraphs in Chapters 13 and 154 were kind of cool, but how could they be losing a war of attrition with the Neo-Amazonian Femicomm Hordes if they could still generate a thousand robotic gladiator-bears every single day?" We gush, "Boy, he must've pulled info from at least three overviews of Rome.

A hero travels a scarred galaxy or planet, encountering isolated societies in various stages of development. Some are too wacky in one way, and are eating themselves alive; others are too wacky in other ways, and are not strong enough to survive in the real world. Hero's journey forces hero to realize that people are fundamentally broken. We learn, "Life sucks. Also, certain social policies are delusional." Meh. The definitive civics.

Now we're formal adults. What does the future hold? Or are we still stuck in kindergarten forever, albeit with more hoplite headgear?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Le Capital & Staged Rebellions

One of Bill Gates' lackeys ghostwrote a response to Thomas Piketty's recent Capital... If you haven't already done this one, Piketty is the économiste provocateur who wrote Capital in the Twenty-First Century, indicating that he wanted to make the fame and money he deserved by establishing himself as the latest radical insurrectionist who nonetheless happens to be a wealthy, powerful, tenured French academic. He takes only several hundred pages to reach his staggering conclusion, namely that rich people will get richer and screw over everyone else, and that their offspring will get even richer and screw over everyone else even more. This makes makes Piketty the intellectual heir of Jesus, Buddha, and Marx, and everyone's having lots of fun talking about either how dumb and pinko, or how actually-right, he is.

There are a lot of fun things popping up in this particular world. Firstly, why would anyone consider it important to know what Bill Gates' people think that we should think that Bill Gates thinks about Piketty? That one has the best answer, so we'll do it last. Secondly, why would anyone consider it important to know what Bill Gates thinks about Piketty? That's a fun issue, because it deals with the celebritization of the wealthy. You know: Paris Hilton is famous because she's famous, not because she contributed anything valuable to humanity and/or planet. Lots of people fawn over sports stars, which is several orders of magnitude more intelligent than caring about non-sports rich people--there's still an element of reality in some mental and physical aspects of even American sports competition, such that you can genuinely appreciate the occasional moment of prowess or ingenuity. Being fair to all parties involved, Bill Gates didn't do anything more creative than a mob boss' son. He went to California, got some of grandpa's friends to give him some money to pay some programmers to develop a shitty ripoff of a product designed by programmers working under license from Xerox capital, bribed his way to a market monopoly, and became rich. Any half-intelligent asshole could've accomplished the same thing, if they'd had the right mommy and daddy to get them on the list to the right developers venture meeting, then give them a few million to buy exclusive rights to future royalties on several thousand other peoples' independent ideas. Yet, like the bourgeois of all the western ages, everyone fawns over little Lord Fauntleroy once he's all grown up, sure that, somewhere under all that powder and makeup, he has some non-genetic secret to success. So yes, we ask George Lucas for tips on pitching unsolicited scripts to Hollywood, we read about how Bill Gates fought his way up from the alleys with a can-do attitude, and we ask Warren Buffett how to turn our yearly $32K into our first million, because he's obviously done that before.

Yawn. Earth. Long live the king. Anyhow, thirdly, what in the world could have motivated Piketty, or anyone, to believe that it was necessary to write a book about how rich people will get richer because they're rich? Jesus could at least claim a lack of access to libraries, but really, folks--there's a great controversy over whether or not rich people will get richer? Yes, there's supposed to be such a controversy. The rich people pretend that anyone can get rich, while some of the fawning underclass pretends the same. Everyone who knows how to read Piketty or listen to Cohen, though, has already reached the conclusion that the poor stay poor and the rich get rich. We're not Joe the Plumber or Newt Gingrich here, right? Barring the occasional token lottery winner or slam-dunker, the superficial game has closed doors, and the real game is invitation only, and does not include tokens. Ergo it's staggeringly--truly staggeringly--stupid, at first glance, that anyone would have to write, anytime since the invention of "debt" or "taxes," a book describing how rich people are going to be rich at the expense of poor people.

So why does Piketty write the book? He's a safe outer edge. It's part of the elite's destructive cycle. Every so often, some financially-comfortable theorist is expected to produce a book behind which a peaceful, theoretically-minded set of bourgeois can fret. Like "Hope and Change" for western liberals, or "End Obamacare now" for western conservatives, it's part of a staged rebellion, designed to steer discontent into an ephemeral discussion, away from anything that could cause actual change. Obama and Romney were united in wanting more war, more torture, and more ways to use the police to force hard workers to tithe the priestly class of owners, and if they'd spent their debates cackling and showing their middle fingers to the cameras, promising to steal your money and bomb the world, there's a small chance that some proles might turn their sense of wrongness into the act of pursuing effective change. Similarly, Piketty, like all intelligent economists, knows that you can make your comfortable living through a combination of (1) the right background, and (2) producing convoluted theories that please either the proud bourgeois or the guilty bourgeois. Piketty chose the latter, producing over 600 pages of an argument about how rich people will become richer, whereas the larger group of economists, who made a Romney-like show of criticizing Piketty's book, talk about how anyone can become richer through gumption. Write Capital in the Twenty-First Century, and you give everyone just what they want: an excuse to recycle the same talking points they've been covering their entire bloviating lives, in the context of yet another guy's adapting of the old material, replete with a few updated company and country names. Pressure release valve. Piketty says the obvious so that the other obviousers have something to obvious about. Printing Capital... is like mailing dead fetus pictures to NOW--you know they aren't going to give a shit, and that they've already seen the pictures, but you want to tweak their noses in hopes of getting some predictable attention. Reading Capital... with enjoyment is like looking through your own album of dead fetus pictures, in order to remind yourself just how much you dislike abortion. You already know; you're just getting off again.

Go on, then--write another impassioned plea to The Economist under the belief that the plight of the children will "get through their skulls." That plight is already in there, just like it's already in your skull, and it's not a question of debate. They've all seen the skinny, gut-bloated, maggot-strewn African baby corpses, and they don't give a fuck; more importantly, you know they don't give a fuck, and you know that they will continue not to.

Here are the only two real argumentative positions produced by the past thousand years of economics:

1) Rich people occur because they are better or harder working, or maybe, occasionally, because they got lucky, but were smart enough to jump at the right moment.

2) Rich people occur because they are crony bastards who came up with clever ways to justify receiving the results of others' work, or maybe in extremely rare circumstances because they got lucky.

Stupid people make Argument #1, and even stupider people make Argument #2, because if you understand Argument #2 and aren't holding a pitchfork, you're part of the problem. Piketty uses a little non-abstruse math to liken himself to Einstein (r>g), remaking obvious points about how accumulations of capital will grow larger faster than working scum can "catch up." Duh. Yes, the nobles have a mountain of gold. They grant all permits and license all trades. They toll all roads and tariff every good. They arbitrarily enforce takings clauses, monitor all publications and conversations, and ensure that all public arguments and policy changes occur within a carefully proscribed realm of acceptability. Ergo they will continue to be rich. Wow, Piketty, you wrinkled my brain with that stunner.

Same argument, evolution argument--the situation as we find it is a result of our inherent personal superiority, built into which means our ability to capitalize on those tiny, rather insignificant pieces of luck that we probably created anyway by our own coolness (and which poor/extinct beings lacked, therefore gone). Bill Gates is a #1, and so long as the London School of Economics produces a constant stream of "We are superior," and the occasional outlying radical like Piketty produces a "There might be a tiny problem here which can be peacefully addressed through academic arguments and legislative adjustments," things will continue as they are. It's part of how it works. You have a problem with the movies for all being sequels or comics knockoffs? Well, have a problem with economics, too.

What Bill Gates' people think that we should think about what Bill Gates thinks

Back to Bill. Over the past few thousand years, we've seen a shift in how the antilife elite conceal themselves in plain sight. They pretended to be gods for a while, and they used tribal identity and presumed blood connections; those became considered semi-archaic, so to prevent change, they developed formalized nobility, and to continue preventing change, they made formalized nobility seem archaic, and developed fiscal nobility. It was the same old story--everyone is human, but the gods choose some people to elevate to godhood; everyone is human, but our blood is stronger, and I lead the tribe; everyone is human, but noble blood is superior; everyone is human, but some meritoriously earn godhood through wealth.

As we move through the latter phase of this ongoing process, we're reaching a point of critical mass on our coagulated perceptions that the whole "rich" thing might be less than fair. This means the system needs to create an artificial change, maintaining roughly the same elite bloodlines while appearing to neutralize the problems of the past. In essence, we paganists have begun to figure out that Ra did not actually appoint Pharaoh to get all the women and olives--or at least, that if Ra did do it, he is our enemy. For Earth 2014, that equates to enough people dull-wittedly figuring out, over the course of hundreds of years, that Andrew Carnegie and Sam Walton weren't actually self-starting go-getters with a lot of pluck and determination, but cruel thieves who inherited the spoils of their parents' piracy, and who continued the family tradition of stealing the work product of millions upon millions of other people, leaving death and destruction and, most importantly, unfairness in their wake. "Maybe," we ask, "as billions starve and explode, while a tiny coterie of smiling faces accumulates wealth that could build paradise, there is something wrong."

That's a big step; it really is. "There's something wrong." Wow. Kind of gives you pause. It's like seeing the second picture within the picture, the way the lady's face is really a carefully angled cockroach leg, and once you see it it's really wacky when everyone is admiring the lady and you realize the picture is a trick. Most people have realized there's something a bit buggy about it, and we can argue all day about praying mantises or freemasons, but it really is quite the development--that moment when you can no longer see just the lady, for whatever reason.

What Bill Gates' people think that we should think about what Bill Gates thinks is important, because Bill Gates' people are helping effect the elites' transitional argument: the transition from "rich people are rich because of merit" to "there are no rich people." The same parasite will continue sickening humanity, extracting wealth and stifling progress, but in an even more subtle way. This is going to be the next great battleground. It has taken popular culture over a century to reach even the limited level of understanding that we now have about the relationship between the things we call freedom, democracy, and money. As discontent began to grow with the European aristocracy, and people took several centuries to realize that the "noble blood" argument was a sack of shit, the parasitic elite spawn was able to survive by making the shift more political power being expressly granted to aristocracy. There are still some ceremonial nobilities out there among the world's less intelligent peoples, but formal power has been moved to the "free competition" realm, where "wealthy" people, rather than "nobles" (hint: they're the same people) appear to rule by a more deserved, rational form of virtue.


We discussed earlier transitions of this type in this series, looking in particular here about how charities operate to hide exclusive power in plain sight. Just as the elimination of formal nobility made it plausible for another few hundred years of hell, slaving for the same lazy bastards for different make-believe reasons, the elimination of individual-specific wealth will generate the same, all while making it appear that there is no elite. Remember the greatest trick Satan ever pulled? Elites will use charities to make it seem that they have vanished entirely; that everyone is equal; that, not only are there no nobles, but there is no private wealth whatsoever. There will be so many Chinese walls of governmental agencies, trusts, and business organizations, that it will be extremely difficult for future social critics to even identify that there is a problem.

Elites' transfer away from formal nobility as a justification for power had that same effect, for hundreds of years. Even today, you can find poor people in red states who genuinely believe that powerful people are powerful because they "worked hard" or "were smart." Squealing about Stalin and Mao, they insist that billionaires are a combination of brilliance and luck, and have learned in the Randian style to blame any unfairness they perceive on the poor, who somehow have greater power to repress economies than do billionaires. The elite shift to charity will cause the same effect: in two hundred years, when someone complains that all the best Foundation jobs and benefits go to a tiny subset of people who seem well-connected in other ways, everyone else will accuse the complainer of laziness and sour grapes, sure that the new charitable meritocracy is actually a meritocracy. The same defensive fantasy will be deployed by the wishfully stupid to justify the contrasts: "It's not like these are the days of Trump and Buffett, man! He started out dirt poor, just like us did!"

(If you're inclined to foreshadowing, elites have even more devious things planned to make the charitable phase last longer. Think "Pre Forbes Magazine," where even fewer people know who is really rich and who's just bourgeois. The charitable legal entities that control power will have the extent of their ownership, operations, and C-level control policies concealed behind a veneer of security and personal privacy. Charities themselves will be broken apart into a maze of sub-sub-subdivisions, so that it will become a conspiracy theory to claim that any given fifteen operations, which on the surface conduct completely different kinds of business, are actually descendants of Komen, designed to give the right peoples' kids cushy tax-free executive jobs for life.)

And so, the show went on. Here's an example from Part 6:
Example: in a bad year, Bill has $56 million of income. To avoid paying it to the IRS, he donates it to the Bill Foundation. The Bill Foundation has, as one of its charitable purposes, eliminating stubbed toes in rural China. Bill and thirty of his friends attend a conference near John Hopkins University on the problems of stubbed toes, staying at a nearby Hilton resort, where they host a charity ball for doctors and other donors. Jackson Browne and Jerry Seinfeld are paid to appear and entertain the guests as they eat $200 plates and drink $300 bottles.

Bill and company tour Hollywood, meeting actors, eating out, watching films and shopping while raising awareness about this crucial issue. They end up on a cruise ship that takes them through Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand, where they meet with a few local doctors and visit some villages where the children have been afflicted with stubbed toes. The ship moves on to mainland China, where Bill recuperates in the finest hotels, preparing for an important meeting with a local health official. In exchange for promises of donations from the Bill Foundation to local medical clinics, the official makes sure that Bill has plenty of time to get to know the city's ins and outs, make some good contacts, and come home with some really nice memories and souvenirs.
The "charity" is not charity in the sense that the word was once created; rather, it is yet another way that elites have come up with to hide the true extent of their power and coordination from the humans they farm. What we now call charitable operations are simply ways of making elites' pleasurable activities appear selfless, of making deductible the endless vacations and power brokering that elites would be doing anyway to coordinate their strategy. Going to balls for charity; building mansions for charity; traveling the world for charity; eating for charity; socializing for charity; being entertained and educated for charity: patently ridiculous connections, yet as ordinary as a president playing golf while the world burns. This is the same con nobles have been running for a long time, where they would finance wars of European succession, then hold charity balls to raise funds for "our troops"--which proved that they contributed as much to the war effort as those who were shooting and being shot. Of course--ironically, but not admittedly--they were contributing more to the war effort, by establishing wars, albeit not contributing in the way that they were pretending to (risking their bodies in the theoretical physical defense of their country).

(On the potential social utility of rounded educations: remember Jane Austen? Half those country dances the girls were going to were held under the auspices of raising funds for some "cause." But what they really were for was for gentlemen to coordinate the seizure of village commons and the land of independent farmers, the transfer of rural populations into urban workhouses, the ethnic cleansing of the Irish, endless war against the Archduke, and which estates would be blended through marriage. The "cause" for which elites hold galas, for public health or education or social improvement of any kind, is always and every time a cover for what they're really doing. "The humanities" was always better at portraying and predicting human behavior than "economic science" ever was.)

The previously-cited Part 6 goes into more detail about how elites use charities to exempt trillions of dollars of wealth, permanently, from outside control of any kind, and how those charities then serve as private networking for elite families, providing venture capital, lifetimes of profitable employment, and an endless veneer of "giving" and "philanthropy" to what are, in truth, private wealth transfers. Where once the billionaire could be accused of being a billionaire--a great and terrible crime in a world full of hungry, dying people--future billionaires will be paupers...albeit paupers who eat organic cuisine in the Foundation's cafeteria. Paupers who drive Foundation vehicles, live in Foundation condos as part of their "job requirement," travel the world on "Foundation business," influence government as "experts" in the fields the Foundation deals with, receive Foundation health and personal security benefits, and who retire at 40 to Foundation mansions with generous Foundation stipends. Paupers who are attended to daily by Foundation escorts and doctors and nutritionists, and who enjoy private employee lounges filled with everything their department's budget bought for them.

All of the same things that have marked these long Gilded Ages--the disgusting cronyism; the false concern for the plight of the poor; the eerie coordination between social success based upon a shadow network of who your parents were and what kind of education and work experience you had; the harmonious warfare between the lower classes of different nations--all these things will continue as before under the Charity State. And it will be extremely painful to watch the bratty little great grandchildren of all these vile people talking about how they are themselves commoners; about how they are not nobles, or rich persons, merely the part-time employee of a few small nonprofits.

Here is one of Bill Gates' fawning turdlings' insights:
To be clear, when I say that high levels of inequality are a problem, I don’t want to imply that the world is getting worse. In fact, thanks to the rise of the middle class in countries like China, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, and Thailand, the world as a whole is actually becoming more egalitarian, and that positive global trend is likely to continue.
...and why is "income inequality" going away? Because the elites are hiding their income. It's all still there, but for a variety of reasons (see the Tax Theft series, linked above), it's not being counted as income. It's being written off as business expenses or charitable donations, or countered completely by depreciation and similar counter-income schemes, regime-shopping, simple laundering, or government disregard deals. It may come as a surprise to someone who likes Bill Gates articles, but the drug lords in Mexico are not reporting their actual incomes or accumulated holdings, anymore than Bill Gates is.

Even more importantly, income is not wealth. Wealth is wealth. The argument that "income is wealth" is moronic, particularly when delivered by such a prolific, disgustingly unfair tax-evading starvation monster like Bill Gates' Team, yet effective upon people who think that their "income" is their wealth. (Chomsky fans will note the way that the modern elite are always exceedingly careful to couch wealth-based discussions in terms related to reported net income rather than those related to actual gross assets. This is a sign of deliberate intent to deceive, particularly when employed by people who understand what real power is.)

More from Gates' nameless Rove:
Imagine three types of wealthy people. One guy is putting his capital into building his business. Then there’s a woman who’s giving most of her wealth to charity. A third person is mostly consuming, spending a lot of money on things like a yacht and plane. While it’s true that the wealth of all three people is contributing to inequality, I would argue that the first two are delivering more value to society than the third. I wish Piketty had made this distinction, because it has important policy implications...Take a look at the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans. About half the people on the list are entrepreneurs whose companies did very well (thanks to hard work as well as a lot of luck). Contrary to Piketty’s rentier hypothesis, I don’t see anyone on the list whose ancestors bought a great parcel of land in 1780 and have been accumulating family wealth by collecting rents ever since. In America, that old money is long gone—through instability, inflation, taxes, philanthropy, and spending.
This one was brilliant, albeit in an evil way. You see what [he] did there? With that dumbass example about how a wealthy guy putting money into building his business is delivering value to society, he plumps up the old noblesse oblige--the aristocratic version of trickle-down economics. There are fabulously rich people so evil, and non-fabulously-rich people so daft, that they still say they believe in that, just as there are people who still believe that buying a yacht and a plane is good for the economy because it "creates jobs" (it permits you to work to make nice things for me). Right into the middle of those other two options, the ghostwriter slipped the "giving most of her wealth to charity," which was the main thrust of the deception. Charities are the new rentiers.

Real Charity

Bill Gates isn't even flinging a coin to the beggar on the road to Jericho, and he's certainly not restructuring the edifice. Instead, the malignant piece of shit is sitting in the palace in Jericho being fanned by palm fronds, sipping wine, and building an extravagant, tax-deductible mansion next door where he can meet with people once a week to discuss ways to address the beggar problem...while at the same time donating money to a group of privateers that burns people out of their farms and turns them into beggars, and donating more money to other privateers who capture slave children and teach them how to work in the nearby quarry, mining limestone for his next mansion.

Real charity is no strings attached. A little charity is giving the beggar a coin, medium charity is giving him a home and a donkey, and true charity is giving him investment capital. Bastard usurers don't do that--instead, they give people charity with strings attached, like, "here's a job working for me, from which you can be fired at any time," or "here's a little money for now, and if you keep doing things I like, here's a little more later, and so on." Real charity is a grant of independence and power, to allow someone to achieve something. To afford an education, start a business, or just enjoy some time not living under the whip. With real charity, you don't impose your own will on the person by telling them what to do with your charity. That's not charity: that's employment. It's a patronizing lie. It's allowing someone to be your shoeshine or parlor maid. Charity is not charity unless it's a true separation of the grantor from the grantee, the giver from the receiver. A line of credit; a scholarship; a small business loan; a mortgage and an obligation; a job: these things are business transactions, and acts of subjugation, but not charity.

Bill Gates got venture capital from mommy and daddy's friends, which he was able to somewhat-independently invest in stuff that his people told him IBM would buy, and standardize, so being a lucky little lordling who's never had to walk the rope without a net, you can't blame him for failing to understand what actual independence and initiative is. Naturally, he doesn't know how to give it to other people in return. All his charity works the way his parents' false, loveless charity worked: behave this way in the world, as part of our network, to achieve the success you must have over others in the image of our spirits. And so do all these people work, whether they pass to their children patents of nobility, infusions of cash, or merely connections to family friends' multi-billion-dollar foundation jobs and lifestyles.

If you want to really be charitable, you give the bum the fifty and let him drink himself into a stupor or blow it all at the casino, because charity means respecting the autonomy of a living being, instead of substituting your priorities for his. Over the past century, as the "individually rich" model began to die, elites have changed the definition of the word "charity" in order to mean, not charity, but anything in this deceptively sweet, arscenic-laced fruit:
The exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3) are charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals. The term charitable is used in its generally accepted legal sense and includes relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erecting or maintaining public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening the burdens of government; lessening neighborhood tensions; eliminating prejudice and discrimination; defending human and civil rights secured by law; and combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency.
As you can tell, that list includes anything in the entire world, provided that you are rich enough to pass the test. These requirements expressly exclude influencing legislation, but the big Foundations do nothing but influence legislation. Gates, Pew, MacArthur, Komen: constant presences in mass communication, perception management, voter education, childhood civic mindset-forming.

(Christ-inclined thinkers may wish to take a moment here to reflect upon the effects that state-church meshing has had on the formation and quality of churchianity over the years. By "licensing" churches, the Powers That Be control them through the IRS, just as state-licensed marriage has had predictable effects on church marriage.)

The bum drinking up your fifty example is not pleasant, but if you can't accept the way others live, then let them starve. Structures of control, where we force others to engage in certain behavior, do not produce positive results. You know the whole sensibility relationship between drug homicide, police presence, and improved educational and employment opportunities, right? E.g., spend more on cops and drug homicide rises, spend more on social programs and drug homicide (and dealing and use) drops. It's the same issue the government has pretended not to understand for a hundred years, using property taxes and public schools and cops and welfare to build decaying neighborhood hells full of underclass. So too with the bum--he drinks the fifty because a fifty by itself is nothing. Bill Gates will eventually spend his way through the charade of eliminating malaria, only to leave behind the same ravaged continent filled with ethnic cleansing, starvation, and copper mine tailings the size of Los Angeles (And besides, the Foundation is only using malaria as cover for increased Africom military presence, which has claimed, and will continue to claim, far more lives in the years ahead than malaria could've ever hoped to).

"Teaching a man to fish" feeds him for a long time, but "giving him an educational stipend to receive a bachelor's degree in business administration from a regionally accredited college," or some other shameful farce, is not the same fucking thing. When they make the switch--as they make the switch they're making right now, while expecting us to cheer them for it--do not be fooled by it in the slightest. It is the same old show. The same deathly emptiness is behind their eyes as in those of their noble forebears.

Remember the essentials. Remember the things that truly matter, when we consider power relations, merit, and what constitutes a good society:

1) Who eats, and who goes hungry?

2) Who eats poisoned food and grows sick, and who eats fine, pure food?

3) Who is being killed, and who is not being killed?

4) Who is being struck, and who is not being struck?

5) Who does the work she enjoys when she feels ready to work, and who works only because she must?

6) Who is possessed of many possessions and most certainly to have shelter and sustenance for life, and who faces constant uncertainty about her later years?

7) Who is living in a fine, private palace, and who is living in a very small private space, or has no private space at all?

8) Who may be heard by many whenever she wishes, and who is a tiny voice among a massive crowd?

9) Are there dirty, unsavory, neglected corners of the world, or is the world everywhere lush and clean?

10) May those who wish to leave do so, or is there left nowhere where they may be together or alone?