As Nietzsche pointed out long ago — birthing the postmodernist movement, although most won’t give him credit for that — our “knowing” supersedes reality because knowing is a partial representation of reality, so is easy to remember, but reality has much greater complexity.
We have made knowing into a science, and an art — of controlling each other. Every now and then the fantasy consensual “reality” we create as a result gets punctured, but that evidence is not brought to light for most, because it’s unpopular. No one likes saying “I was wrong.”
We like to think Our Way is the best and that with democracy, consumerist capitalism, a big media to investigate all wrongs, and a culture of the individual, anything bad can be beaten. What scares us most are the people going in the opposite direction because they seem to have more actual passion for life than we do, where we’d flake out on anything that got too difficult, and so they’d prevail over us.
Here’s the media/social fiction:
Tens of thousands of people wearing green accessories — the sign of the opposition — have come out on to the streets of Tehran and other major cities for the first mass protests against the Iranian government in two months.
Shouting slogans, the protestors denounced Ahmadinejad as stealing the June presidential election: “Liar, liar, where is your 63 percent?”
They also demanded the release of thousands of people arrested in government crackdowns on previous rallies against Iran’s contested presidential election results.
And here, in a very simple form, is the reality:
On Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the survey finds that eight in 10 Iranians say they consider him to be the country’s legitimate president.
While both sources are fallible, this poll puts the situation back into context: it’s not the giant revolution cum civil rights struggle cum WWII-analog we like to think it is; it’s 20% of the population who really doesn’t like the leader the rest think is going to be a fine president.
Kind of like how in this country, around 2006 or so, it became just about social taboo — meaning you get ostracized by people who fear you’ll taint their social status if you say anything contravening that taboo — to say anything good about George W. Bush. Yet, when we look back over it, we can’t think of anything he did wrong, so we’re forced to blame him for the government under him: the Katrina people were incompetent, the CIA didn’t know Iraq had no WMD, and so on.
The myth is not the reality. In fact, it’s wrong to call this consensual pseudo-reality a myth; it’s more like a shared hallucination, or as Immanuel Kant mentioned, a reality filter by which we pick what we want to believe and let everything we see re-affirm that.
Here’s more filtered “reality” versus reality:
Muhammad is now second only to Jack as the most popular name for baby boys in Britain and is likely to rise to No 1 by next year, a study by The Times has found. The name, if all 14 different spellings are included, was shared by 5,991 newborn boys last year, beating Thomas into third place, followed by Joshua and Oliver.
Scholars said that the nameâ€™s rise up the league table was driven partly by the growing number of young Muslims having families, coupled with the desire to name their child in honour of the Prophet.
Fantasy world: people come to our country, live here by our laws, and become just like us and we’re all the same.
Reality: every religion, culture, ethnicity and social class is not just fighting for survival, but to dominate others, because without domination, it’s at their mercy.
One of the most powerful figures in the Anglican Church believes that Africa is under attack from Islam and that Muslims are â€œmass-producingâ€ children to take over communities on the continent.
Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, 56, was elected Primate of Nigeria last week and his elevation could exacerbate tensions at a time when Anglicans are working to build bridges with Muslims.
Nigeria is split almost half and half between Christianity and Islam. There are about 17 million practising Anglicans in the country, but they face persecution in the north, while the two faiths vie with local religions for supremacy in the rest of the country.
Terrifyingly, this article points out how this archbishop is correct: each group is trying to gain demographic power over the other, so it can definitively win and re-make the country in its image.
This is the same reason Democrats, starting in 1965, tried to import as many non-white people as possible into the USA because non-whites tend to NOT identify with the majority, and so they vote liberal; by the same token, the right has its Quiverfull movement, where good Christian conservatives attempt to produce as many children as possible to attain demographic superiority over the left.
That’s reality. But reality isn’t popular. For starters, it’s too complex; symbols, emotions, summaries and identities are cleaner and easier because they’re summaries that do not attempt to convey the breadth of a situation. So we stick with symbols, but the first person who wasn’t around when the symbol was created takes it literally. Problem!
Here’s another reality versus illusion:
I was also in Moscow in the spring of 2006, when Foreign Policy magazine published an article by two American experts arguing that the only purpose of setting up the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic was to give America first-strike primacy over Russia. The American academics, Keir Lieber of Nortre Dame and Daryl Press of the University of Pennsylvania, argued that the missile shield being set up in Eastern Europe only made sense if its design was to give America the capability to launch a successful nuclear first-strike on Russia and shoot down whatever remained of their arsenalâ€“as Lieber told me in an interview, it made no sense to place the shield on Russiaâ€™s northwestern border if the object was Iran or North Korea, because the shield is designed to take out the missiles as close to their launching point as possible. The only possible reason for setting it up in Poland and the Czech Republic was to first-strike Russia.
Now the neocons are back to try to ruin us again. This time theyâ€™re screaming treason and stab-in-the-back at Obama for the crime of canceling a corrupt, failed, and ultimately dangerous-to-ourselves missile shield that was to be set up in the Czech Republic and Poland.
That’s the fantasy. We made the other upset, and this program is designed not to protect but to guarantee us the ability to strike… which is you understand nuclear politics, is actually the only way to defend: to make sure the other guy isn’t going to try to nuke you if things go bad on the conventional front. That’s the reality.
Here’s the other half — parts of Eastern Europe are looking for someone to keep Russia from dominating them again:
Poles and Czechs voiced deep concern Friday at President Barack Obama’s decision to scrap a Bush-era missile defense shield planned for their countries.
“Betrayal! The U.S. sold us to Russia and stabbed us in the back,” the Polish tabloid Fakt declared on its front page.
Polish President Lech Kaczynski said he was concerned that Obama’s new strategy leaves Poland in a dangerous “gray zone” between Western Europe and the old Soviet sphere.
Back in realityland, Poles and Czechs remember Russian tanks rolling through their territory. They remember how the Russians — members of a different ethnic group — scorned them, raped them, and left behind a dysfunctional infrastructure and an impoverished, under-educated, fearful population. They don’t want that to happen again.
In fantasyland, everyone just wants a slice of the pizza, and then they go away.
In realityland, the real question is who owns the pizza and thus gets to determine who gets slices.
We can whine about how unfair that is, and I can point out how it’s actually more fair than equal distribution of pizza, but that doesn’t stop the people who want “peace in our time”: they want to believe whatever is most convenient for them personally because they believe the world is a subset of themselves. Just like our symbols, we can get fooled into thinking that our memories and conclusions about the world are the real thing. That’s a path to FAIL central.
Our central fiction is that because we’re here and alive, we’re doing something right, so we should do what we want, and call it progress. In our vision of ourselves, which psychologists might call narcissistic, we are bringing light to the world, we are the answer to the cruelty of nature and its horrors! We will eliminate injustices, hurt, death and other negatives, and what is left will be what’s good… although, we’re thinking in terms of static objects and not process or cycle, which is how nature works. Maybe we need those negatives to restart the cycle?
In our profoundly happy worldview, we’re getting ever closer to paradise, every day. In reality:
A national survey has found that more than 8 million adults in the United States seriously considered suicide last year, with younger adults the most likely to contemplate taking their own lives.
In addition to nearly 8.3 million thinking about committing suicide, 2.3 million made a plan to do so, and 1.1 million actually attempted it, according to a federal government study released Thursday.
The findings are from data collected in a 2008 survey of 46,190 people aged 18 or older.
Adults aged 18 to 25 were far more likely (6.7 percent) to have seriously considered suicide than those aged 26 to 49 (3.9 percent) and those aged 50 and older (2.3 percent).
I guess we’re not doing as well as we thought.
Perhaps it’s time we stopped living in fantasy, and denying reality, and accepted that we have a tiny role in the universe, and we’re in control of it and can screw it up and destroy ourselves, and that the start of our future consists in realizing our place in the larger order — instead of trying to put it within ourselves and control it through the use of symbols and solipsism, or the condition of thinking the world is a subset of ourselves and not the other way around.
I put out this barb today in response to someone bemoaning how on popular news aggregators, people vote down important news items because it offends their personal vision of reality:
People only vote for what flatters their own view of reality, which they’ve usually borrowed from the media.
I specialize in Unpopular Truths, because the truth always contains good and bad, and thus is *never* popular.
Here are some of my opinions that always get downvoted:
* Most people are irresponsible and inherently environmentally destructive. They will buy SUVs, litter, buy endless electronic junk and toss it out a week later, run their equipment at all hours of the day and night, drive off-road through protected areas, mutilate rare animals, etc. It’s just how they are.
* IQ (g) determines what you’re capable of doing. I’ve seen enough of life to realize congenital intelligence is the most important basic factor; on top of that, it’s character.
* Most people are looking for something other than themselves to blame, and never really engage the issues. They want push-button voting that makes someone else fix the problem so they can keep watching old Roger Moore movies on cable, or whatever it is they do.
* Democracy is part of the decay cycle of a civilization and represents a total lack of consensus among the population, thus the civilization is sure to be unable to make decisions, problems will pile up, corruption will come about to hide them, and then order will collapse and third-world status will arrive.
* Diversity never works and actually accelerates the above process.
* The only environmental action that matters is reducing population; if we do this, we should reduce from the bottom of the IQ curve, not the top.
* Jesus Christ would hate today’s Christians; they would hate him; that doesn’t mean either group is wrong and, in fact, I’m not a big fan of Jesus.
* Ayn Rand writes awful books and people like libertarianism so they have an excuse not to pay for the parasitic and useless people around them.
* Barack Obama is not intelligent, nor is he a good public speaker. Like Bill Clinton, he has a few tricks, and presents himself well, but is completely weak on content. However, he is not Hitler nor is he Stalin. People need to attack his polices, not whether he’s a Muslim, born in Kenya, a Socialist, Hitler, a Jew, whatever it is this week.
* Most people actively hate the truth and fear it.
Best of luck!
People will hate it, of course. There’s too much there that spears sacred cows that are sacred not because we’re deferring to some authority outside ourselves, but because they justify our continued hiding within ourselves — our solipsism. One cannot smash the sacred symbols of the individual and come out ahead.
But someone has to try.