Blog Archive

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Words, and their Meaning.

One hears an awful lot about Freedom, these days.
It is invoked as the reason for the Wars, as the reason folks run for Office, as the Goal of Life.
The word is thrown about by politicians, and would be politicians, as if the Meaning is so well known as to need no is a Given..."Everyone" Knows what Freedom means.
I differ in this Sentiment, as in so many others.
I say that Important Words must be Defined.
This would entail much Debate, by just about everyone who will be affected by the Defining of such Words.
I think it is instructive that this is not the case.
No one, it seems, feels the need to Define anything, especially Important Words.
I posit that this has led, almost of necessity, to such Words becoming, if not Meaningless, the Polar Opposite of what they once were....and what We think they still are.
A few Anecdotes...
My 8 year old Son is at the weekly (in Season) Ritual Battle with a Rival Town (Football game).
He's "cattin' around",Socialising with his friends, especially Girls.
A Cop, the Grandfather of one of his friends, playfully handcuffs them, in turn....itself, a stealth form of Indoctrination, but not the most pernicious. That Honor goes to a little later, when a younger kid is caught, by this Cop, buying candy at the Concession,(concession to what?),an then going among the crowd, selling the candy at profit...Adam Smith, or Marx, would say that this boy is 1)showing initiative, 2) in effect, selling his Labor (waiting in line, delivery) other Words, being a Good Capitalist. However, this activity is, apparently, Forbidden.
It's not in any of the rules I've seen...and i doubt that it's Codified, at all.
But this Intervention, by the cop, is seen as uninterestingly commonplace, hardly worthy of comment.
My Son includes it as an aside, and only at my prompting does he elaborate.
What Message is this sending?
I don't, for one minute, think that this is an Intentional Message..the cop didn't learn it in Cop Class, didn't receive instructions from his flows without comment or thought...just as Natural as Rain.
What I immediately Thought, was that this small act was a very Profound Statement on the Reality of our Modern World. The fact that it was unintentional, and unrecognised, makes it an even more Profound Statement.
In America, in the Early 21st Century, Capitalism was a Secular Religion...seen as the Highest Form of Social Organisation, and as an almost Divine Gift to Mankind...the State that all of Humanity is Reaching for.
The Mythology is Powerful...every man a King...Work Hard, Get Rich....Upward Mobility as an Article of Faith.
American Dream.
There are many examples of this being the case for certain Individuals...very many, in fact.
But what is the Economic Norm?
Most of us work for someone that "Person" an actual Flesh and Blood Human, or the Bodiless, Paper Kind.
Furthermore, with the decline of Manufacturing, the preceding Monopolisation/Cetralisation of the Means...and the later "Off Shoring" of that Means, and the Jobs that went with it...we, in America, normally work in "Service" it waiting tables, or selling something made elsewhere.
The Core Service, no matter the Product being Sold, is making folks "Feel" Special...most of whom are anything but...rather ,quintessential examples of Mediocre and Homogeneous. The man at the table,B3, shaking his glass at the Waitress...insisting on a whole lemon with his made to Feel Special by her attention...(in these instances, she is rewarded with a pittance...which Speaks Volumes)...he is made to Feel like a King.
This has become the most important "Product" that the vast majority of us it in a Cell Phone Store, a Wallmart, or on the Trading Floor.
It is a Simulacrum of the Dream...for none of us really have the Power that the Mythology implies is our Birthright.
Rather than Every Man a King, we are Cogs in the Machine of Capitalism.
The Cop's unintentional Lesson teaches this Implicitly.
This Child, with his Initiative, is breaking the Unspoken Rules....which run contrary to the Mythos.
Only those with Sanction, the Concession Stand,may use Initiative.
The rest of us must work for them.
Is this what is being "Conceded" at the Concession?
Probably not Intentionally...I don't know what the provenance of that word, used this way, is.
In this little tale, this Anecdote, that's what I derive.
The Austin News had 4 lead stories, the other night.
Both "sides" of the (Official, but Unspoken) Political Divide were represented.
What we call "Liberal" was represented by the story of a woman whos Property was "Annexed" by the City...which led to her being Forced to sell her being a Violation of the city's Zoning Ordinances to keep Horses.
Busybody, Coercive Government...Lording it over the Individual...with One-Size-Fits-All Rule-Making...and an official "Concession" to the Individual, in the form of an expensive, Byzantine Process of Protest...whereby this woman could, albeit arduously, Contest the application of the Rules to her.
The other 3 stories were about the War on Drugs...which, in Reality and Effect, is a War on Marijuana. This is the "Conservative" portion of the newscast.
Big, Intrusive Government...Imposing Morality and Conformity on the Individual...with One-Size-Fits-All Rule-Making...and an official "Concession" to the Individual, in the form of an expensive, Byzantine Process of Protest...whereby one could, albeit arduously, Contest the application of the Rules to her/him.
One story detailed the Mandatory Drug Testing in School, in order for an Individual to participate in Extracurricular Activities...the "Out" was that no one is Forced to partake, to get Tested...but if an Individual Refuses, they are Forbidden from Participating.(it is better to follow the Rules)
Another, the necessity, according to the Chief of Police, of purchasing a number of Vans, equipped with technology that "sees" through walls, surveills houses from the street, without Warrant, in order to root out Drug Use.(We are Watching).
The last story was regarding a man who was arrested("stopped") for Possession of "Drugs"...which means, usually, Marijuana.
He was caught by a "Undercover" Cop, presenting himself as a "Drug Dealer".("Drug Dealers", like the boy in the first story, are the Quintessential Capitalists)
(We will Find You...You Cannot Hide...and you Cannot Trust Anyone.)
These parenthetical Meanings are unacknowledged in the News Cast...
The Sanctioned Intoxicant/Relaxant, in America for most of the 20th Century, and the first decade of the 21st, is Alcohol...
What I derive from this is as follows.
Alcohol is conducive to Violence,Unreason, and a strange mixture of Passivity and Aggression.
It is a Lizard-Brain Drug...making Men into Swine.
Pot is a Front Brain Drug, making Men into Mystics.
The Implication is that we can have only so many Mystics, Front Brained Creatures...
Too many, and the System ceases to work.
The Mythology surrounding Marijuana confirms this.
The Horse Woman's experience is related in that Conformity to Arbitrary Norms is not Optional.
Horses are not allowed in the city, men are not "supposed" to have long hair, unless they're Drug Fiends...
And one must be Sanctioned,... Baptised, as it order to Participate...whether it be in Band, or in Property Ownership,in Capitalism, or in the Management of one's Consciousness.
All of this runs Counter to the Mythological "Reality" we think we live in.
We Believe one thing, and Do another.
The Disconnect is unrecognised.
In this Culture, then, what is "Freedom"?
The Freedom to Conform? To do as you're told?
The Freedom to Follow the Rules...with the Threat of Force and Coercion, often Unspoken/Unthought-About, if one strays from the Path of Righteousness?
"Freedom" as Antipode to Freedom. our reflexive "Understanding" of what "Freedom" means.
The Assumption,... Unexamined, as that We are a Free People...
So Free that the World is Envious of Us.
Defending this Freedom is the Purpose of the Wars...which leads, incidentally, to further Limits on Behaviour and Speech, as in the whole Matrix of "Support the Troops" Rhetoric...
To Challenge it is Verboten.
I submit that we have been Sold a Lie...
My , Considered, Definition of Freedom is Codified in in the Wiccan Rede, my favorite, most concise example..."An Harming None, Do as Thou Will"...
Given, to Live by this requires much Thought and Consideration...of the Consequences of Our Actions, more than anything.
In it's turn, this Consideration requires a certain Habit of Thought.
It doesn't work all that well without it...
More Anecdotal Evidence are to be found in the Marijuana Culture, as opposed to the (more or less official) Alcohol Culture.
Potheads, when relatively Unmolested, are known for their Habits of it Munchies or Weed...Avoiding Unnecessary Conflict...and an Egalitarian Do as Thou Wilt...
Drinkers, on the other hand, are known for Belligerence...and for the guarding of one's drink,girl,etc.
The one is about Us; the other, Me.
Of course, this is not Universal...and there are many Variables that influence the Zeitgeist of a given situation...for instance, when Potheads are oppressed,actively sought out, they tend to become more like Drinkers. They guard their Stash, even from friends...
Conversely, Drinkers, when certain Variables are just so, are Amicable, Sharing, and Tolerant..
I realise that these are Generalisations...and that they come to me, at best, second hand,(one, related to me, filtered through the Mind of a eight-year-old)
...but Generalisations have their uses...and I believe that these, particular Generalisations, are ,on the whole, Accurate....from my own Experience.
That given, one is led to ask: why would a civilisation discourage the one, and encourage the other?
Again, I doubt that a "Decision" was made....the Smoky-Room simply, Is....a Function of Our Culture, Unexamined, Unarticulated, and Unspoken...but Operative, nevertheless.
The Answer to this Dilemma, it occurs to me, is stated, Implicitly, above...Front-Brain/Lizard-Brain.
Sharing/Guarding. Cooperation/Competition.Aformity/Conformity.
As in the first Anecdotes, our Civilisation requires the latter of all these Syllogisms.
If the Former were allowed to run rampant, Civilisation would Change...and Change runs contrary to Status Quo.
These Musings of mine, on such Commonplaces, might seem Farfetched...Insane, even...which, ultimately Proves the Point.
Examples of this confront us every day...usually Unnoticed, Unremarked...
They are the Jungian Things-Behind-Things...
The Archetypal Soup to our Bits of Celery and Potato.