Friday, March 26, 2010
Gaia. You know. a.k.a. Systems Theory. Huh?
PATERNALISTIC OLD WHITE MEN. I don't usually take suggestions about posts. This time is the exception that proves the rule. Eduardo wanted me to see the Marxists among us and so he offered this link with the proviso that the comments were the only interesting part. He's right. Marxists all. Nothing to say about it, really. Except read them and weep. (Yawn.)
But then he provided this additional link about The Great Turning, which is far more interesting. Why? It's facinating, to me at least, because it's actually written. You know. Sentences. Paragraphs, Spelling and punctuation. Far better than the standard at a score of righty websites, including Ace of Spades, InstaPundit, Hugh Hewitt, Boortz, Hotair (with the sole exception of DocZero), PowerLine, and all the Breitbart sites (sadly). Useful. How? Because regardless of the close relationship that usually exists between them, writing and thinking aren't the same thing. It's possible to be a competent writer and a wildly, utterly incompetent thinker. (Thus explaining Norman Mailer, for example.) Anyway. Here's a sample paragraph:
Now, in this very time, these three rivers — anguish for our world, scientific breakthroughs, and ancestral teachings — flow together. From the confluence of these rivers we drink and awaken to what we once knew: we are alive in a living Earth, source of all we are and know. Despite centuries of mechanistic conditioning, we want to name, once again, this world as holy.
Whether they come through Gaia theory, systems theory, chaos theory, or through liberation theology, shamanic practices, or the Goddess, such insights and experiences are absolutely necessary to free us from the grip of the industrial-growth society. They offer us nobler goals and deeper pleasures. They redefine our wealth and our worth, liberating us from compulsions to consume and control.
So rich is the harvest, that when we claim these new understandings, there’s little room for panic or self-pity. Instead, gratitude arises to be alive at this moment, when, for all the darkness coming upon us, blessings abound. They help us stay alert and steady, so we can join hands to find the ways the world self-heals—and see the present chaos as seedbed for the future.
I love this (Thank you, Eduardo.) It's a perfect archetype of literate writing and, well, nonexistent thinking. Which makes it perfectly post-modern too. Consider that the first sentence of the second paragraph would make exactly as much sense if it had been written thus: "Whether they come through Lady Gaga, carburetor technology, flatulence jokes, or through G-spot theory, itinerant Gypsy fortunetellers, or Beyonce, such insights and experiences are absolutely necessary to free us from the grip of the Cleveland City Council..." There are virtually no commonalities among the strands of thought being so specifically referenced. Gaia theory is a pseudo-mythology imposed on the past, systems theory and chaos theory are legitimate branches of science and math, and everything else in the citation is post-modern, victim-centric bullshit. But it sure sounds scholarly, don't it?
AGAIN my thanks to Eduardo. Rare, really, to get such a distilled example of what people are exposed to every day in the mainstream media. That WTF feeling you get when you read a NYT editorial or hear a sententious commentary from some third-generation successor to Eric Severaid at CBS News is a result of exactly this kind of fakery, which can be given many names: pseudo-intellectualism, faux learning, narcissistic preening, ignorant elitist bombast, jargonized superiority, academically abstruse obtuseness, or what Lewis Carroll aptly named Jabberwocky.
But Lewis Carroll defined it only by example. Bertrand Russell, on the other hand, defined it in (gasp) precise dictionary terms (h/t to commenter Michael Murry at Sic Semper Tyrannis for the exact quote I remembered).
" ... what Mr. [Bertrand] Russell once called ... 'a purely prudential use of language,' ... using words not because he knows what he means by them, but because he knows how they are ordinarily used, and does with them what he has heard other people do with them before. He strings them together in suitable sequences, maneuvers them aptly enough, produces with them pretty well the effects he intends, yet meanwhile he may have not much more inkling of what he is really (or should be) doing with them than a telephone girl need have of the inner wiring of the switchboard she operates so deftly. He may merely be in the condition that Conrad ascribed to those Russians who pour words out 'with such an aptness of application sometimes that, as in the case of very accomplished parrots, one can't defend oneself from the suspicion that they really understand what they say.'" [boldface added]
That's what we're up against with the left. They tend to write better than their counterparts on the right. (That's what the Ivy League does after all... provide a vocabulary of disdain unaffiliated with actual experience.) But they have no idea what they're really talking about. It's just a pile of plausible phrases they've learned how to string together in a way that can be diagrammed as grammatically faultless and therefore superficially beyond reproach. Could you write a more literate paragraph?
This is a syndrome that reaches very high into the realm of the intellectually elite. It explains the opening paragraph of this post, for example. But there's nothing in their educations or predilections that makes them students of systems theory, chaos theory, shamanism, or mythology -- let alone economics, complexity theory, information theory, quantum physics, theology, archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and cosmology -- to the degree that a functioning human being who is grappling with the meaning of life in an oppressively secular age is inclined to do.
What's the biggest single cultural influence in the western world? The Bible. Ask the next intellectuals who patronize you whether they've ever read it. Be alert for deceitful answers because they haven't. From Judges to Proverbs to Isaiah to Romans, it's all Greek to them. (And believe me, they've never studied Greek either.) Everything they tell you about your supposed religious delusions is misdirection. Everything they condescend to share about their superior take on religion, philosophy, science, or politics is "the purely prudential use of language." In other words, intellectual mush.
We're governed these days by an elite class of emperors. All of whom have no clothes. Don't be afraid to jeer at their nakedness. Yes, they're articulate, assertive, arrogant, and if need be, assaultive. But they don't know shit. They're simply the brightest smears we've trained ourselves to track on the Internet. By bright I don't mean intelligent. I mean, rather, the strobing egos of those who know so little of their own paucity that they lack the humility to regard the spotlight as something other than a friend.
LESSON: If they give you a podium to preach from, be very afraid. If you're not afraid, there's a near 100 percent probability that you're a fool. If you take a podium no one gave you, be very very careful. You're probably a fool too. Those are the inevitable odds.
Unless you're InstaPunk. Because we're never ever ever wrong. Except when we're completely full of shit. [Which might have happened once or twice in the last seven years, Maybe.]
Here endeth the lesson.