Anatomy of a self-fulfulling prophecy

Once you have one revolution, everything after that must measure up by being revolutionary too.

This means you can no longer have incremental change or small victories. It’s not a new type of screw-top lid; it’s the screw-top lid that will revolutionize life on earth.

It may even bring world peace.

Over the past 2,400 years, we’ve seen a lot of revolutions. Most of history is made in un-doing them. They all tend to be about the same: the relatively insignificant change that in a social or emotional context “changes the world.”

Way back in the 1960s, there was a culture revolution staffed by hippies. They were here to tell us the insignificant: if we love each other, take lots of drugs, and accept just about any act as moral, we will live in a new world. It will be better, they said.

Theirs was a self-fulfilling prophecy, but they did not know it. To them, the world of peace and happiness could be had by acting as if that state had been achieved. Little did they know that an end result must have a cause other than itself, or the “end result” becomes a method toward an unknown end.

They didn’t think about that, or wonder what that end might be.

Always one for being iconoclastic, or deliberately and forcedly weird, The Beatles released Yellow Submarine in 1969. It accompanied a movie by the same name, in which psychedelic travelers tried to find a new paradise by escaping the Blue Meanies (analogue for police) into a groovy new state of mind. If it sounds like a child’s cartoon, it is. It just projects adult drama into that simplistic setting.

The original trigger for it was a song in which the vocalist describes an idyllic life in a yellow submarine, separated from humanity and hiding in the sea. Dream analysts may find the symbolism of hiding in the unconscious mind (water) interesting. Others will see the more likely explanation.

The Beatles, like all other revolutionaries, had impure hearts. They wanted revolutionary change, but were conflicted in themselves and harbored great doubts. The word “harbored” is appropriate: they nourished these doubts at the teats of their spirits.

Where the song and video are a self-fulfilling prophecy is that they predict a negative world, and create it by pulling back from reality as it is and forming an even less coherent worldview. The problem, as The Beatles saw it, was people projecting their needs onto the world selfishly. Thus, The Beatles did the same thing.

That the two fantasies were putatively different was really irrelevant. Both were the same method: project, then create the situation you envisioned, which doesn’t work out so well in actuality.

The difference is that the world before The Beatles, while imperfect, was attempting to find clarity in a balance between human mental urges and the complex web of interrelations that make reality interesting.

Now a half-century later The Beatles are ironic prophets. We all live in yellow submarines. Our communities are gated, our homes are air-tight and connected to the world through water and air filters. We live through bright colors and symbols in our text messages, Facebook and official documents.

Psychologically, we might as well be in air-tight submarines. We have identified the world as hostile, and withdrawn from it, resulting in its decay while we seal ourselves away.

Like most revolutions, this one knew what it hated, and was so busy hating it that it replicated it, but in a less competent form. Perhaps the source of human misery is human delusion, and no amount of revolutionary submergence can change that.

33 Comments

  1. I know you mean well, but you’re going to kill any conversation with these poetry floods. Best perhaps to save them up, edit them and submit them.

    1. crow says:

      Ego never means well, although it always thinks it does.
      It serves only itself while raging at anything that doesn’t also serve it.

      1. God save me from my own ego — oh; wait, I guess that’s the point.

        Reminds me of that hilarious scene from the Bible where Adam and Eve are off hiding in the bushes because they know they’ve done wrong. Hiding from an omnipotent being? You’d have better luck hiding from *oxygen*.

        1. crow says:

          Emerging victorious from battle with one’s own ego is as simple as knowing one has one. It is the flimsiest of things. The only safety it has, is in its disguise. Expose it, and like a vampire in the sun, it turns to ashes.
          No wonder egomaniacs prefer to live in perpetual darkness.

          1. In the darkness, no one can tell if a soul is covered in filth.

            Or the couch, which in the spirit of not casting the first stone, I’m gonna vacuum in just a sec here.

            1. crow says:

              That’s one of those jobs that doesn’t invite getting done.
              Take your time; do it right.
              Y’all come back now, y’heah?

              1. 1349 says:

                That’s one of those jobs that doesn’t invite getting done.

                Hey, cleaning is a form of reestablishing order. It’s very rightwing.

                1. Our new icon: the mop? the vacuum? the feather duster?

                  1. crow says:

                    Any of those, as opposed to, say, The Humvee and Snickers.

                  2. Doug Vance says:

                    The cheeseburger and Soviet lettering are iconic Amerika content. The domain name alone lampoons the current state of our civilization. So, the idea of critique as cleaning up may come across as confusing or contradictory.

                    1. Anon says:

                      I think they know that, and were having a laugh – conservatives are known for their witty one-liners, amirite? :-)

                    2. Conservatives: Nature’s Hidden Comedians, tonight on NOVA 9 PM EST / 8 PM Central.

          2. Lisa Colorado says:

            I dunno about the ego burning away. I’m inclined to think it’s always there, always wanting something new and better, throwing off what’s no longer gratifying to it.

      2. Lisa Colorado says:

        …including our own better thinking.

  2. crow says:

    “The Beatles, like all other revolutionaries, had impure hearts.”

    That says it all. It’s true right across the board. Having an impure heart is the default state for humans, and so there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.
    It becomes damaging when the impure heart poses as pure, and becomes a hypocrite that lays out how others should behave.
    Paul was the purest, and most talented.
    George was next. A reasonable technician, sort of like a plumber.
    Ringo was a simpleton, without anything to say, and thoroughly mediocre.
    John was the dark horse: a sneering, lip-curling leftist, through and through.

    Together they approached genius, somehow, in spite of the ingredients.
    But always tainted with the impurity of the various parts.

    As spokesmen for a ‘better world’, they were spectacularly unsuited.
    If they had known anything, they might have added to their recommendation for drug-use, that it went nowhere, in and of itself, but might be used sparingly and temporarily as a launch-pad for self-development, before being abandoned in favour of enlightened sanity.

    It is drug-use, more than anything, that makes most leftists what they are:
    Addled, damaged, deluded lifestyle-fantasists.

  3. Jason says:

    I accept that people aren’t perfect. Indeed, many people are beyond fucked, but is this different now than ever before? Were people less fucked up 50, 100, or 200 years ago? How about 500?

    Maybe we’re all in our little submarines because many of us find happiness there?

    Despite how some can say it’s “unrealistic” to live in your own bubble, if it’s peaceful and thoroughly enjoyable, how is the sensation any different than what you’d call realistic?

    If I focused on what I know to be real in the world, I would be so consumed with angst and depression that I would be unable to function, or be positive!

    1. There’s a plus side and a minus side to anything.

      Being in a yellow submarine, or on powerful drugs, may help you make it through the day.

      It can also mean you ignore problems that need fixing, or better opportunities.

      Really conservatism is about the latter. We want better lives, not falling back into the type of fail that is the norm for humanity. Rise above, and all that.

      1. Jason says:

        I smoke weed and dance around to Lil Wayne to get my morning started. Usually after that I hit the gym for 2 hours while my employee does the menial labour of my business for me. Then I come home, read, make art, write, and prepare the next day’s porn uploads. ( Yes, I sell porn on the internet for a living )

        I think my life is getting better and better, despite some of the behaviors one would think would lead away from happiness and prosperity. I think we have to adapt to the realities we want to create, rather than trying to stick to our cube forms in a round hole world.

        I know, because of Brett, I’ve made a huge effort to improve the lives of my friends around me, and it shows. Shit is going good, even though it may not be the typical conservative view of what good is.

        I think better lives starts with figuring out what makes the individual happy. For me, part of that is helping others to get the most out of their lives.

        1. I think better lives starts with figuring out what makes the individual happy.

          I think it’s a fallacy that individuals are that different, and that “happy” is a goal.

          You want a fulfilling life. These take many forms, but have the same ingredients.

    2. 1349 says:

      Were people less fucked up 50, 100, or 200 years ago? How about 500?

      Yes. Even 10 years ago. Significantly less…

      1. Jason says:

        My biggest complaint about how we live is how people pop prescription drugs as the “magic bullet” to happiness and fulfillment.

        I think that is one of the reasons why some of us are so fucked up.

        1. It’s not only a reason why people are messed up, but a signifier of how far our civilization has fallen. Using drugs to “fix” our perception of how bad things are, instead of fixing those things, is a big problem.

  4. Lisa Colorado says:

    Change and evolution that come about through holding steady and then adjusting what’s already going, is what I’d prefer to these “throw out the old order and start something new” impulses. Except in clothing and music fashions–that’s okay.

    1. Evolution as a concept is opposed to the idea of new top-down designs. It rests in taking what you have and gradually improving it.

  5. Jacob says:

    You guys should check out “The Century of the Self” – it show’s Freud’s nephew’s heavy post-WW2 influence in creating the modern individualist/consumerist identity as a means for exploiting the masses for profit. The whole modern individual concept was literally created as a marketing technique to exploit people like cattle.

    One funny anecdote is where he describes inventing one of the first politically correct turn-of-phrases by renaming “propaganda minister” to “public relations” and creating a whole industry out of it.

  6. ferret says:

    The Beatles, like all other revolutionaries, had impure hearts.

    There was nothing they could do about it: “The Bible tells us that every human being is born with a sinful heart. Paul explains in Romans 5:12-14 that we have all inherited these evil tendencies from Adam, and because of his first sin, we now come into this world with a heart that is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” (Jeremiah 17:9)” [http://www.wordoftruthradio.com/questions/19.html]

    We all live in yellow submarines. Our communities are gated, our homes are air-tight and connected to the world through water and air filters.

    Not clear how the Mayberry community will be different: in order to survive it has to be the closed one. The life there is similar to “an idyllic life in a yellow submarine, separated from humanity and hiding in the sea.”

    1. Doug Vance says:

      What’s humanity? As Joseph de Maistre asserted:

      “In the course of my life, I have seen Frenchmen, Italians, Russians….But, as for Man, I declare that I have never met him in my life. If he exists, I certainly have no knowledge of him.”

      He’s basically saying the idea of Man, Mankind, or Humanity is a false one because it is a fallacy of composition. The Mayberrys of the world are whole and complete societies in themselves, not a withdrawal from society. The

      Mayberrys are distinct because they are not composed of an undifferentiated mass of atomized metropolitan hominids, which interestingly enough is less qualified to call itself a society than Mayberry. That humanity is only superficially connected by the external things like infrastructure and economy that may appear and disappear within a generation.

      They’re missing the essential cultural and social elements that consciously bind people across a multitude of generations. Schmitt (Concept of the Political) and Putnam’s restatement (study reveals that immigration and diversity not only reduce social capital between ethnic groups, but also within the groups themselves) go into depth on this.

      Post 1960s mainstream pseudosociety is a billion Yellow Submarines amidst those once vanishing, yet perhaps now returning authentic societies referred to here as Mayberrys.

      1. The reason people fear Mayberries is that there’s an entrance exam and behavior code. I think most people think like Groucho Marx, “I’d never join any club which would have me as a member,” except in reverse. They’d join any club which would have anyone as a member, because there’s no way they can fail in that situation. It’s the club that requires them to sit up and behave that they fear.

        1. ferret says:

          The reason people fear Mayberries is that there’s an entrance exam and behavior code.

          Only those with a bad intentions fear this exam. Like a fox going to visit a chicken farm.
          All other people will benefit from learning they don’t belonging here, rather than be unhappy afterwards.

      2. ferret says:

        This is the first time we are talking about the multiple Mayberrys.

        There will be a few major groups of them in accordance with the ethnicity, traditions, and culture. The Mayberrys belonging to one group but spread over the country will experience a certain disadvantage of being surrounded by the incompatible types and, which is really bad, by the multi-culti Mixberrys.

        These Mixberrys will be constantly trying to penetrate the Mayberry for better life while destroying it.

        There must be a minimum size of the Mayberry that is sustainable. Same as the Bee Hummingbird that cannot be smaller, or it fails to warm itself.

        Thus, Mayberrys have to be large enough and immune to invasions of all kinds – political, cultural, economical. This is my main concern; how to make it without tight isolation from the outside world.

    2. Not clear how the Mayberry community will be different: in order to survive it has to be the closed one.

      Individuals will not be sealed off from other individuals, least of all in housing developments that exclude them from the community.

  7. EvilBuzzard says:

    SO how would you fashion a rebellion that already had a reachable goal in mind? Would that require an impossible degree of foresight?

    1. The solution is: no rebellions.

      Fix what is broken, nurture what is good, smash what is bad.

      It’s the method nature, men and divine forces alike have used since before the creation of time.

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