August 1, 2009

Introduction Post

I have post-dated this first introductory post by so that it will always show up at the top of the blog list, since it is the introduction. After this, the blog is intended to be read in chronological order with the oldest posts being read first. When some points carry over from one post to the next, this may become significant.

The initial title of this blog is logocidio, a provisional title if there ever was one. Names and titles have never come easily to me and less so when the underlying signified to which I will attach the signifier is in such a nebulous state. We can see the root logos, the word, preceding the affix -cidio, which indicates killing. I had intended some ambiguity between the interpretations "killing words" where words are being killed and where words are the killers, but upon closer inspection, it seems that the poor words are being snuffed out as the root is the recipient of the action in the suffix here. When I think of a better title, I will redact it (thus modifying the entire latticework of lexemas supporting untold thousands of semas!) and hopefully sleep better at night.

When one writes a thesis, there is a an established procedure for declaring the intention of the text. Likewise with published works nonfiction, and occasionally fiction (though fiction writers lie more often than not). The reader is provided with a set of expectations and allowed certain assumptions upon which he or she may understand the pages to come, and interpret the statements with a common purpose in mind. When reading a novel, we often use the cover, the title, the epigraph, and any biographical information about the author to inform us on what the rest of the work will tell us. Thus the opening line "it was a dark and stormy night", cliched as it is, will be read different on a climatological text, a horror novel, a romance novel, or a piece of detective fiction. Each genre builds in its own set of assumptions and if the title of the piece is "Hurricanes" or "The Creeping Death" we will likely come to very different conclusions just after these first seven words. In the case of this blog there is screen layout, the color scheme, the title, the author's name (if it is present when you are reading this), and the nature of the first paragraphs you read.

If you are still read after the preceding paragraph, then perhaps nothing can dissuade you. Fine, let's being then. I don't intend to concern this blog with the mundane happenings of my personal life, because anyone who really cares that much probably already knows. I am interested most in the secret (that one, single inexpressible secret) that lies behind all things. Umberto Eco, in his novel Foucault's Pendulum wrote of a secret conspiracy to rule the world that was invented and discovered in one stroke. Jorge Luis Borges, in his Biblioteca de Babel writes of a book that indexes all other books in the cosmic library. I propose something no less grand.

This one ineffable truth is the true meaning of all great literature. The madness of Don Quijote is the madness of King Lear, the existential angst in La Vida es Sueño (Pedro Calderón de la Barca) es the same that Prince Hamlet was wracked by in Denmark. Every piece of good literature tries to address the question of this same sense of the numinous mystery of human existence, but never the same way twice. Art and philosophy aren't so different in this respect. Modernity, in the sense of a period of human thought and progress, seemed to suggest a singular answer while postmodernity rejects this in favor of a multitude of answers to this one question, each true from its subjective vantage point. This is where I make my entrance here. When I think and when I write, I want to understand the world, my world. This is one of the most noble endeavors of the human animal, in my opinion. This blog is my attempt to not only make sense of the world, but to convey the understandings I am gaining to you, the reader. And returning to the theme of postmodern discourse, my purpose is also to persuade you of the legitimacy of my narrative archetype (to borrow from Fredric Jameson) and to follow some of my precepts.

Knowledge and persuasion are my main foci, and it is fitting that it be so in a medium such as this. But my other project is one of action (or more likely, a bemused attitude towards inaction). What follows in this introductory post is the crass and unsubtle expression of a juvenile need to see our mark on the world around us and to correct the ills we see. Take for what it is and nothing more, but understand that it is the second thread that lies beneath my epistemological system--reflection for understanding on the one hand and understanding to exert power on the other. With that caveat, read on.

Let's conquer the world. If you began a thesis with that statement of purpose or opened a self-help book with that bold proposition, where would you go from there? Well, let us examine the question further. The proposition begins with "let's", a contraction of "let us" and so it already speaks of a plurality of agents. The predicate of this syntactic structure is "the world" and which seems to imply the widest possible interpretation, as no limits are given (e.g., the world of finance, the world of stamp collecting, etc.). Whether making such an outrageous challenge or a far more modest one, it is incumbent upon the challenger to take stock of what resources are available and the optimal manner in which to array them. And keep in mind that wise men learn from the examples of others.

Who else has tried or is trying to do the same? Quite a few religions have and are at present making their own bids for control, as are some national governments. Economic systems, capitalism and communism, have been struggling with each other for several hundred years (mercantilism had its day too) and capitalism is the clear winner at the present time. What methods do these systems use, how effective are they, what are their flaws, and how can one improve upon them? What motivates individuals to act in accordance with a group goal or set of goals? What structure can be built into a system of power that will evolve and reinforce that same structure over time? These are some of the questions we must answer at the outset.

To take one clear example from the second half of the 20th century, we have the pseudo-religion of Scientology. It was begun by L.Ron. Hubbard, a hack science fiction writer whose work had been viciously panned by both the critics and the reading public. He invented a mythology and an associated pseudo-religious framework upon which he built a cult. In some ways his organization resembled a ponzi scheme, with membership levels requiring increased monetary outlay and recruiting, and in other ways it resembled a cult along the lines of Heaven's Gate or any other cult driven to abuses by a charismatic leader. Hubbard identified the psychologically vulnerable as ideal recruits that could be molded into his obedient drones and reprogrammed and he followed in the footsteps of the major religions in some of his methodology. Again his enemies, his cult has employed tactics of infiltration, harrasment, subversion of government organizations, libel, intimidation, and even violence. If a Scientologist is reading this now, I can expect some reprisal. In these actions, they don't differ markedly from Islam or Christianity, and in this way there is some legitimacy to their claim that they are a religion (albeit one that is particularly malevolent and does little to disguise its thirst for dictatorial oppression of humanity). But to be honest, their mythology is ridiculous enough to repel all but the most credulous and desperate. But there is at least an attempt at secrecy, regimentation, and organizational hierarchy to support that system of space-opera type myths.

Moving away from religion for a moment, what other forces in the United States exert the most power? Those with money. There is a reason why the men of Wallstreet in the 1980s were known as the Masters of the Universe. In a capitalist society such as ours, or the Chinese or Russians for that matter, those with enormous wealth control the society on a level that the average person fails to comprehend. The rise of the hedge funds in the 1990s underscored this point as groups of incredibly wealthy investment fund managers who controlled private (and thus secret) account colluded to bankrupt entire nations. George Soros on his own broke the Bank of England through the use of the FOREX markets and by manipulating a combination of the world's exchanges, hedge funds disrupted the economies of several South East Asian countries (Thailand, for example). It was economic warfare for our modern age (for economic warfare is nothing new). The shadow economy, as this derivative economy is sometimes called now, has grown to be far larger than the real economy and the control of these arcane financial instruments has become control (or destruction) of the real economy.

At this point, what do we have? Do we control hundreds of billions of venture capital? Do we have hundreds of millions of loyal followers who believe in the divine truth of our mission? No. We begin with very little. Careful planning is necessary. This is my introduction: my statement of purpose. When I seem to deviate from this stated goal, it will be to pursue ancillary objectives or at times indulge private curiosities.

Of course there must be more than simple conquest. Islam desires the submission of all of humanity before it, but at the same time it sees itself as a perfect way of ordering human society and providing for the great benefit for all concerned (observe the functioning of any Islamic theocracy to test that theory). Communism seeks fairness and maximum enjoyments of human labor as a benefit of its imposition as the controlling force across the planet. Our plan too must provide for the optimal functioning of the system of the world. Put another way, the end result must be to improve the lot of mankind in some way. This is all very postmodern, when we consider the objectively negative improvements that Christianity, Islam, Communism, Capitalism and Nazism (to name a few) have imposed upon the world. But still, a better future for humankind should be the ultimate purpose for the exercise of power.

This post will serve as a general introduction to what will follow. That is all for tonight.

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