“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.” – Kurt Cobain, in some Nirvana song.
A few random things I’ll meander around, one – and this really is a bit random here – I had a thought pass my mind; uniforms reflect a metaphysical order. But I’ll get to that in a bit.
Two: Maurice Yolles at John Moores University recently authored a paper looking at the way in which social psychological processes in social collectives can result in individual pathological behavior and neuroses. And how this can result in overt corruption in the social and political arena. In general they conclude that social collective entities have psychological pathologies that are very similar to individuals. And their pathologies interact upon individuals’ pathologies.
Looking through Yolles bibliography one notices an interest in cybernetics and organizational behavior and theory. An interest in collective entities, organizations of all types, and their apparent psychological processes. The idea that a collectivity can exhibit what appears to be psychological behavior shouldn’t be surprising at all. It’s a basic mainstay of old fashioned Crowd psychology going back a century, and forms the basis of much of communication, propaganda, and public relations theory.
Three: on that theme, I’m reading an interesting book – it’s by the Jadczyk Couple (Arkadiusz and Laura Knight)” it’s called “Political Ponerology” – here’s an Amazon link in case you want to check it out, I recommend it.
So back to uniforms, reflecting a metaphysical order?
You know, if you look closely you can realize that in the most mundane everyday, and even and mediocre things, there are traces of a metaphysical order. Subtle traces like a wisp of incense smoke, traces perceptible even if the people of a given age fails to recognize it.
Here’s an example for you, ever notice how headgear can become iconic?
Take a fedora, a jazz musician’s newsboy cap, a Fez, a pith helmet, a turban, a hijab, barrister’s wig. The symbolic function of headgear will always continue in sublimated ways irrespective of how secularized a culture gets. Headgear sits on the head, the apex of the physical being: “‘nuff said?”
I have to throw gowns in there, gowns too.
Why else does the white lab coat of the scientist or doctor inspire in even some of the most agnostic of souls some residual priestly respect?
So they say, the habit makes the monk, the djellaba makes the dervish, the BDUs make the soldier, the Oxxford or Armani makes the banker (or Gigalo…)
Above, I mentioned two quotes in the title – here are two quotes I found thought provoking, they look at envy and sadism:
“Envy parading behind the mask of Justice is an ugly brute.” -Charles Hasan Le Gai Eaton in, “King of the Castle
“Most people are merciless sadists. Only cowardice tempers their behavior. Never trust a coward, and never ’empower’ one…” – The Woodchuck, on the dc-stuff listserv
On a forum board a buddy, let’s call him Gooch, brought up an increasingly popular theme – increasingly many people say we live in a “sado-masochistic culture” – basically one in which a chief way in which people feel better about themselves is to sadistically look down upon those whom they perceive to have less status. In other words, what people often call “head shitting.”
At the same time, he went, those with higher perceived status are allowed to heap abuse upon abuse on those beneath them, while those beneath them indeed admire them for this.
This “sado-masochistic” culture is, in a sense, a sociopathic or psychopathic culture and he believes these trends perpetuate a sick abuse cycle. This pathological tendency is exemplified in the media and popular culture, by our idolizing and lionizing certain celebrities, sports figures or politicians, and then heaping abuse and vituperation on them for their indiscretions and falls. Here we who once loved them now gleefully indulge in an orgy of abuse, direct and by proxy.
We follow the stars in the sky with slack jawed awe, and then we watch them fall with glee while watch others rise.
I think this is a simplification but honestly, the guy had a real point the more I thought of it.
That book I mentioned above, the Jadczyk’s Political Ponerology (A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes) – the book is provocative and hits at a few things.
I have intense issues with many of the Jadczyk’s idea, but this book is an essential read in exploring some of the psychological processes at work in the reaches of social, political, and economic power in our Global mono-cultural mono-civilization today.
Recently I started listening to a few fringe “conspiratorial” radio show hosts – mainly for kicks. For one, these shows are kind of fun to listen to. The hosts in particular shall remain unnamed. I find them, at times, to reflect real life – much like The Onion – to a far more accurate degree than “real media”.
Of course there is a problem of real sloppiness and lack of rigor in many of these shows and hosts. Laura Knight-Jadczyk and her husband are not sloppy, after all he is a physicist and scientifically trained with real rigor – but I do find them a bit loony at times. Loony with rigor, but still loony.
All of these people seem to share this theme of a sociopathic or psychopathic culture and leadership. In spite of the problems of paranoia and sloppy conclusions, I think they often really do have something here. After all, my blog is Kali-Yuga.org, so obviously I find resonance with the idea of dark times.
In many ways our culture does seem psychopathic, cruel, and sick – and not only on the lowest levels, up from the streets and gutters it’s actually sicker, crueler, and more psychopathic the higher up you look, I think. It’s just more easily hidden or displaced under an urbane veneer.
So this “we are ruled by psychopaths” theme is popular but I think it falls short. For one, I don’t buy, I don’t accept the DSM criteria for sociopathology – what people describe as a sociopath or psychopath is a cluster of symptomatic behaviors, external behaviors that you observe, with no thought of their inner causes or logic. Some behavior that seems “psychopathic” may have a real and important reason that relates to survival and that’s appropriate in some contexts.
It’s this one sized fits all appropriation of psychological terminology, that’s grossly inaccurate and problematic when applied to individual human beings (one person’s sociopath may be another person’s normal individuals coping in a healthy manner under aberrant circumstances) that becomes even more problematic when applied to a society. There may be points made here, but it’s necessary to be less broad and sweeping.
Still, on any level, I think most people would agree that there is something deeply sick about our culture at every level.
My buddy “Gooch’s” observations may well be the case for some people, but perhaps the case can be far more nuanced. It seems obvious that the detracting use of titillating and entertain trivia about the sufferings pains and mistakes of celebrities is a common stock of media fare. This crap is entertaining, and it is distracting, and in a way they both reflect existing mores and ethics while also, at the same time, operating to further drag general mores and ethics through the mud.
It seems fairly obvious to me that, by in large, people usually model their behavior and views on their models – the term role model means one whose behavior serves as a model and example to our own. Rihanna, Amy Winehouse, Chris Brown, Russell Brand, Neil Strauss, eh… Paul Reubens..
Well, maybe not Paul Reubens.
We the public typically follow the example of those we perceive as having a higher status than we do, and yet we often resent them and which vicariously to live in their place, we assimilate onto us their successes and roles and their failures we despise while projecting our own failures on them, they were like deities who fell from Olympus, and thus ruin the fantasy of divinity we invest upon the, so like the Jahili Arab pagans who used to break the idols of those deities who seemed useless or unable to grant their wishes, a rather pragmatic approach to be sure, we break our idols.
Some break under the pressure, like Amy Winehouse, whose self destruction much of the British public took extreme vicarious pleasure in, rather like watching the flesh of a witch disintegrate in the flames.
I wonder if, to some degree, this might be an innate human tendency “as above, so below” – there are exceptions to the rule. Often, I think, much of humanity trusts others to think for it. There are exceptions, but the general rule can be very dangerous.
Sadism and generosity: many people, given the chance, are incredible angels of generosity. So too many seemingly good and pleasant people, when given permission and allowance, can quickly become insufferable dicks pricks and sadists.
What holds them back often is fear, not just of getting caught, but deeper fears, hence the quote above.
Such examples can be found through history, in multiple cultures.
Maybe its all about the human heart. Some folks would happily unload 6 chambers in you, and then steal your wallet if they thought they could get away with it. Some folks would give away their life in a heartbeat to save yours, on a moment’s spur, without a second thought. Our cultures, religions, social institutions, and even linguistic structures, can facilitate or forestall such things. At the end of the day, however, we always have a choice – to be nice, or to be jerks.