Saturday, July 15, 2017

Wearing a Barrel

Where has been the discovery of a means to following a “Moore's Law” of work-leisure ratios? Not “work-life balance” but life outweighing work by an order of magnitude. Members of The Frankfurt School decried stupefying leisure. Where is work, where is leisure, for human beings? For “informed citizens?” There is nearly enough “work” for informed consumers. Wallace Stevens, I've read, was vice president of an insurance company. T. S. Eliot was, James Joyce related, the most “bank-clerky” of the bank clerks on his shift – or was this before such desk work involved shift-work?

The barrel of a gun, and the grave. These are the “parameters” that describe our perimeters. Rand was right for all she was wrong: money is handled by the well armed. “Economics,” whose “laws” are not strong enough to enforce themselves, is enforced at gunpoint. Just try stealing or dodging taxes, and a barrel will be pointed at you by “the laws of economics.” There are no longer jails of economics as such – debtors' prisons. This is immaterial. (Debt is still enforced by a gun barrel.)

To look down the barrel of the gun that is the postmodern Western-American capitalist's relational database collection; this is now exhilarating, now terrifying. For lack of other words, we are lost; the men who run the country, and their wives who run them or are left by them – whether they are addicted to cocaine or social justice advocacy, dying of cancer or fad diets – will not ask directions. Who are offering directions? Charlatans and geniuses – and how are they to be told apart?

The distinguishing characteristic of fools is unwarranted epistemic confidence used as a crowbar or bludgeon. Who batter their way through crowds of each other, the rest of us interspersed, to collect their due, the brass ring, on their way into the earth; who are the cause of dreams of Heaven, an existence without assholes and evils. But what do I know? Who overcomes Dunning-Kruger; who but an expert can choose the experts; how are we even to recognize expertise? If D and K are experts.

The dream – an American Dream – is the rarest, or the most boring (because of its impossibility, its realization in an illusion), manifestation of the data in these relational databases. Numbers live; the numbers are created by us to co-create us; the computer boot(straps), a quasi-hermeneutic-circle without logical violation. Voilá! We have our freedom. That is the nineteen-thousandth table column in the database, connected to an index for faster querying. This number must(!) be minimized, and this is done, partly, by making much of it. Fireworks! Celebrations! Our “princess is in another castle” – and who will look for directions, even admit we are lost?

I did not ask to be born into the common era. I am required, in order to help to raise a child who will pick up my pick-ax when I have fallen over, dead; to know more about human life than does an empty cola can; in the interest of mercy; to keep others, likewise, working; I must it seems, work for one third of my day, including time for basic biological, psychological, and spiritual necessities, during my “working life,” five days a week – or, as the late William F. Buckley, Jr, quipped when speaking of understanding “the hippie movement,” I must “die painfully.”

The most salient fact gleaned throughout K-12 education, understood perhaps not then but years or decades later, is that the people who make up the masses of humanity do not care to become educated at all but to be trained in ways conducive to “earning” money, status, etc, the trappings of princes and queens and kings, their homes their “castles,” their lawns protective moats: wealth without wisdom.

For all that is said of wisdom having nothing to do with wealth, imagining their combination is so delicious it must be taboo – to attempt to acquire them both. The existence of wise rich/rich wise people would drive many who were neither, to burn, lynch, and pillage. Some of the super-rich “Masters of the Universe” say this themselves. I've read one of them, and where there's smoke there's fire; but wise, rich humans would be super-men, and assassinated whenever possible. It would be too much to bear, to have the opportunity to view oneself in such a degree of inferiority; they would be a living pantheon.

Do we have a choice? Is there “no clear alternative,” as Žižek has said there is not? In Heaven there would be no need for the firearms. In Heaven, “we're all dead.” And much better for it.

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