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Topics - Cain

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When you come from the fringe, and enter an economic system, you bring some chaos, street smarts, wisdom or some kind of non-system thinking with you. And to a certain extent, this energy can help the system grow and evolve, and compete more efficiently.
-é─˙Howard Campbellé─¨, Poker without Cards

Ideology tries to integrate even the most radical acts

- taken from a cartoon of the same title, by the SI

é─˙Wake up Neo, there is no countercultureé─¨
- James Curcio, Culture-hacking

So, I was reading on Sunday a lovely little article on some awfully designed website that the Israeli government are coming up with new theoretical models for their operations.  That in and of itself is not too worrying.  I try to steer away from the whole Israel-Palestine issue, mainly because I have no good reason to stick my arm into a hornets nest and wave it around.  However, the thing about Israel is while their recent military performance may have been poor, they do consider themselves under threat and so are always looking for an edge, especially a theoretical one for urban warfare.

However, when I see that they are using doctrines based on Deleuze, Debord, é─˙postmodern anarchistsé─¨ and é─˙nomadic terroristsé─¨, I can't help but feel they are starting to make a move into our intellectual territory, coming towards the theories we ourselves use, the axioms we take for granted, but from totally the operate direction.  In short, the co-option of our ideas and strategies, for the most Greyfaced of purposes é─ý to restore order, as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

We committed one of the two sins when it came to thinking about politics.  We knew they never meant well, but we had pretty much accepted they were stupid, too.  At least, stupid enough to not have learnt from people like us.  Yet, they have.  While this doctrine may not have spread yet, it soon will and it will catch on like wildfire, because its exactly what is needed for the current political climate. Debord's concepts in particular are worrying, as they are the basis for Hakim Bey's writing (probably lumped under one of the postmodern anarchists, I suspect, with Lyotard).  So, in other words, they're figuring out ways to deal with scale free networks, TAZ's, and swarming techniques that could conceivably be used to undermine, hollow out or collapse a state.  Principle ideas in subversion are being turned on their head in order to aid state power and given whose hands that currently resides in, I cannot trust their motives.

Clearly, this is a problem.

For too long, I feel, we have been content to rest on our laurels.  Discordianism has pretty much been at the centre of a lot of western agitation against the Powers That Be, if only indirectly.  RAW and Thornley, along with others, helped build up this mystical, near mythical é─˙countercultureé─¨ in direct opposition to current one, where common wisdom was questioned and new (or old) radical theories were floated.  Again, with the early days of the internet, it was the Illuminatus! influenced hackers who were communicating on the BBS's.  A network of sorts was in place and ideas were encouraged and swapped, for the little good they have done to date.

Every time a subversive text has proved its worth, it has been co-opted at its moment of failure.  This is nothing new, of course, but it is worth noting.  And while in many cases, this was simply to ride out the effects of those who aimed at the removal of the current system, someone has been dangerously smart and has gone back to those ideas, not with plans to use them for the original intent, but to prevent against them.

And they have other advantages on us.  The texts we are talking about were mostly written in the late 70s, the 80s and the 90s.  In fact, the Israeli courses almost look like a who's who of subversive modern philosophers, from Derrida to Foucault.  Obviously not subversive enough, however.  They also have hundreds of é─˙shadow institutesé─¨ where the bright and the patriotic are being paid to study this and come up with novel solutions to the problems of the modern world, problems often based within theories expressed in those books.  Money, numbers and areas for practical trial runs.

The question of course is what is there to do about this?

Well, option one is to do nothing.  Fade into irrelevance.  Give up, admit we gave them a good run and go back to our television sets.  Not bloody likely, but possible.  Its disheartening when you realize the CoN is not only smart, its also very good at reversal, even of ideas of use to you.  There is also the rather vague hope that eventually the militaries infected with these ideas will become hotbeds of sedition and subversion, but I can't see it happening.

Secondly, we could go obscure.  Keep what we figure out away from the prying eyes of the various minions of Order and go with the idea that the unknown is what the CoN fears the most.  Of course, the problem then becomes obvious.  How do you go around attracting people to something so secretive?  More importantly, how do you stop it from becoming just another elitist social club, like the Freemasons or the OTO?

Then there is choice number three é─ý throw the guides away.  Forget the entire counterculture movement, RAW, postmodernism, everything and go way out there, throwing out the rule book.  Off the beaten track, into totally new theories, regain the edge we lost and have some sort of advantage again.  While the soldier boys and tacticians keep their eyes on the now, we can concentrate on staying ahead of the curve.  Since we have few worries of failed careers for not obeying orders or thinking the wrong thoughts in this regard, as well as not being bound by a current, active threat, we can put one over on the monkeys who are starting to catch up.  Screw Crowley and Magick, memes and failed rebellions of the past.  The only thing we should be looking at these for is to see how they failed, not why they sorta, half worked.

Thats how I see the options before us today.  We can evolve and live up to our titles as neophiliacs, or we can stagnate and die.  As always, the choice is change or perish.

Literate Chaotic / RAW library
« on: May 08, 2007, 09:56:57 am »

Literate Chaotic / For LMNO: Sufism and the Mysticism of Sound
« on: April 28, 2007, 01:22:16 pm »

The silent life experiences on the surface by reason of activity. The silent life appears as death in comparison with the life of activity on the surface. Only to the wise the life eternal seems preferable on account of the ever-changing and momentary nature of mortal life. The life on the surface seems to be the real life, because it is in this life that all joy is experienced.

 In the silent life there is no joy but only peace. The soul's original being is peace and its nature is joy, both of which work against each other. This is the hidden cause of all life's tragedy. The soul originally is without any experience; it experiences all when it opens its eyes to the exterior plane, and keeps them open enjoying the life on the surface until satisfied. The soul then begins to close its eyes to the exterior plane, and constantly seeks peace, the original state of its being.

Literate Chaotic / This Is Not A Nightmare: A welcome to The City
« on: April 27, 2007, 10:21:04 am »
You're not sure how you came to be here, in this stinking port, putting in among the oil drums and dark containers, with shit and filth lying deep on the ground.  You don't remember who got you the ticket, or how he came to find or, the name of the captain who was sworn to secrecy or the members of the crew who bought you your meals.

Its hideously different, yet frighteningly familiar.  You're mouth is dry with an odd sense of fear as you wipe away the cold sweat at your brow, wishing the fog would clear.  There is no picturesque view here, nothing that is to be seen on the television screens or the travel guides.  This is not your home, yet it is so if a schizophrenic had taken a copy of the country you once knew, and laid it over the reality, a land ruled by shadows and steeped in secrecy, where unknown figures avoid the light and crawl through the mess.

Taking a step off of the boat, you take a deep breath, then choke on the smoky black air, hidden in the misty shroud of the fog.  There are men unloading crates of 'butter', dressed in black fatigues and watched over by men with rifles.  You look back to the sea for a moment, the ocean waves possible of hiding all sorts of monstrosity, both human and unnatural.  Boxes spill open on the port, spreading white powder, clinking bullets and other hideous items of death, destruction and addiction.

This is not your home, not the way you remember it.  It has a different economy, a different trade base.  Even a different government.  In the quiet clubs, Mafia Dons mix with P2 Masons, exiled generals and boardroom CEOs mix drinks and share jokes with rogue intelligence officers, while SS scientists and private bankers share a tale or two.  The shadow population is in control here.

You need a drink, badly.  You walk down streets paved in freshly laundered gold, taken from the private collections of despots and hidden in off-shore bank accounts, meanwhile live TV broadcasts and newspaper boys shout only Dada like gibberish, in a mockery of what would pass for information.  You stumble and nearly fall through a battered and beaten door, aged not by virtue of being around for a long time, but merely through damage, into a smoke filled and dusty bar.  Pulling yourself up, you walk towards the bar, steps unsteady.  The bartender notices you, his eyes picking you out of the gloom.  As you make your way to a seat, he stops trying to clean the dirty glass and instead turns to you, ready to speak.

é─˙Hey kid, welcome to the City.  Sit yourself down, you look like you could use a drink.é─¨

Literate Chaotic / Amazon top 10 list
« on: April 26, 2007, 09:58:31 am »
Fuck!  I'm a known quantity!

Recommendations for you are based on items you own and more.

The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
The Fall by Albert Camus
The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal by Jared Diamond
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
Principia Discordia by Malaclypse the Younger
The Shadow Man by John Katzenbach
In the Heat of the Summer: AND The Shadow Man by John Katzenbach
The Subgenius Cyclopaedia of Slack: The Bobliographon by Ivan Stang
The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster by Bobby Henderson

Literate Chaotic / JSTOR theft
« on: April 25, 2007, 08:54:47 am »
ITT you name any topic and I will, for free, find and upload academic papers on  them for you.

I love this server being all paid up.

Propaganda Depository / Aftermath: Editor's desk
« on: April 24, 2007, 05:45:39 pm »
This will be the place dealing with

I'm going to work around the settings for a while.  I want to add some links, see if I can get it to post names on the articles in question without having to click the hyperlinks, add an RSS feed and some other stuff.  Hold on.

Literate Chaotic / 15 writing exercises
« on: April 22, 2007, 12:07:39 pm »
Writing exercises are a great way to both increase your skill as a writer and to generate new ideas for future work. They can also give you a new perspective on your current project. One of the great benefits of private writing exercises is that you can free yourself of fear and perfectionism. To grow as a writer, it is important to sometimes write without the expectation of publication. Doné─˘t be afraid to be imperfect. That is what practice is for. What you write for any of these exercises may not be your best work, but it is practice for when you will need to write your best work.

    * Pick ten people you know and write a one-sentence description for each of them.
    * Record five minutes of a talk radio show. Write down the dialogue and add narrative descriptions of the speakers and actions as if you were writing a scene.
    * Write a 500-word biography of your life.
    * Write your obituary. List all of your lifeé─˘s accomplishments. You can write it as if you died today or fifty or more years in the future.
    * Write a 300-word description of your bedroom.
    * Write a fictional interview with yourself, an acquaintance, a famous figure or a fictional character. Do it in the style of an appropriate (or inappropriate) magazine or publication such as Time, People, Rolling Stone, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen or Maxim.
    * Pick up a newspaper or supermarket tabloid. Scan the articles until you find one that interests you and use it as the basis for a scene or story.
    * Keep a diary of a fictional character.
    * Take a passage from a book, a favorite or a least favorite, and rewrite the passage in a different style such as noir, gothic romance, pulp fiction or horror story.
    * Pick an author, one you like though not necessarily your favorite, and make a list of what you like about the way they write. Do this from memory first, without rereading their work. After youé─˘ve made your list, reread some of their work and see if you missed anything or if your answers change. Analyze what elements of their writing style you can add to your own, and what elements you should not or cannot add. Remember that your writing style is your own, and that you should only try to think of ways to add to your own style. Never try to mimic someone else for more than an exercise or two.
    * Take a piece of your writing that you have written in first person and rewrite it in third person, or vice-versa. You can also try this exercise changing tense, narrators, or other stylistic elements. Doné─˘t do this with an entire book. Stick to shorter works. Once you commit to a style for a book, never look back or you will spend all of your time rewriting instead of writing.
    * Try to identify your earliest childhood memory. Write down everything you can remember about it. Rewrite it as a scene. You may choose to do this from your current perspective or from the perspective you had at that age.
    * Remember an old argument you had with another person. Write about the argument from the point of view of the other person. Remember that the idea is to see the argument from their perspective, no your own. This is an exercise in voice, not in proving yourself right or wrong.
    * Write a 200-word description of a place. You can use any and all sensory descriptions but sight: you can describe what it feels like, sounds like, smells like and even tastes like. Try to write the description in such a way that people will not miss the visual details.
    * Sit in a restaurant or a crowded area and write down the snippets of conversation you hear. Listen to the people around you é─ţ how they talk and what words they use. Once you have done this, you can practice finishing their conversations. Write your version of what comes next in the conversation. Match their style.

I'm going to do this later, actually.  Its good practice, I think, and no matter how good you are, practice never hurts.

Or Kill Me / Second Manifesto of the PFLD
« on: April 14, 2007, 03:04:03 pm »
So, you've read the Principia, you can now see the fnords, you even know the terrible secrets of The Conspiracy.  You realize you have some sort of connection with us, a sort of familiarity of presence, as if we're the kind of people and system you have been working towards all your life.  You even knowledge what we if we took the words out of your very mouth, had the thoughts before you did.

Thats great, but don't tell us about it.

We're not interested in your pointless flattery, your idle thoughts on assorted fringe material, your tedious questioning or pointless slams, your need to engage us.  In fact, unless you can tell us something we don't already know, you may as well not bother contacting us at all.

If you think you have something in common with us, then do something to prove it. 

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / BIP theme tune
« on: April 13, 2007, 05:08:49 pm »
Devo's Plain Truth

Who are you and who am i
Except a couple of people With nothing else to do
But follow vain obsessions
Making gestures towards the truth
While trying to ignore it
When ité─˘s convenient to
The symbols we believe in
Sometimes turn inside out
Reshaping each dimension
Were so sure about
Dreams get so frustrated Fantasies turn pranks
A simple ounce of common sense Is money in the bank.

Bring and Brag / Musical detournment
« on: April 13, 2007, 02:05:44 pm »
Well, part of the reason I wasn't posting much over easter (well, as much as I could have) was because my friends have roped me into their band they've set up and I spent a week and a half in a garage practicing my guitar skillz (minimal, given how I havent played in a while).

Anyway, we were looking for some songs to practice and we found a couple of Rogue Trader songs that have some pretty good lyrics for our style of playing (rock-punk).

Which as got me thinking.  Rogue Traders do sort of have a sneering, anti-consumerist slant to their music, despite their almost pop-rock-electro sound, which makes them sound quite appealing to radio stations (check out the lyrics to Way to Go! and Fashion for the best examples).  Anyway, I'm going to float the idea to the rest of them of picking up some well known and quite innocuous pop songs, changing the emphasis a bit, add some sarcasm and let them rip.  I'll let you know how that goes down.

Principia Discussion / Neophilic Irreligions
« on: April 12, 2007, 01:52:49 pm »

The unprecedented growth of the World Wide Web signals the emergence of new forms of communication in the so called Age of Information. Social groups are reevaluating the manners in which they conduct relationships and form organizations. Religions are no exception. Many faiths have online sites where members and nonmembers can gather facts about the group's beliefs, history, and locations of worship. Groups utilize electronic forms of communication like e-mail or newsgroups that bridge the distance between members. Audience cults, a term used by Stark and Bainbridge in The Future of Religion, are dispersed, unorganized religious groups. Three will be the focus of this paper: Discordianism, the Church of the SubGenius, and the cults of Cthulhu. I have attempted to show that the 'members' of these groups are actively involved in the construction of the World Wide Web. Due to their intimate affinity for the computer interface and lack of interest in traditional organization, these audience cults are better categorized as neophilic irreligions, diffuse groups of individuals committed to chaos and the unfamiliar that find meaning in supernatural forces embedded in parodies of conventional faiths. These irreligions construct social space and provide meaning for, instead of retreating from, the confusion and unpredictability so rampant in cyber communication. These groups provide members with ultimate meaning and general compensators that are in tandem to what the Web, and more generally, the Information Age, is all about.

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Neoism
« on: April 11, 2007, 07:13:29 pm »

Neoism refers both to a specific subcultural network of artistic performance and media experimentalists and more generally to a practical underground philosophy. It operates with collectively shared pseudonyms and identities, pranks, paradoxes, plagiarism and fakes, and has created multiple contradicting definitions of itself in order to defy categorization and historization....

Neoists refer to their strategies as "the great confusion" and "radical play". They were acted out in semi-private Apartment Festivals which took place in North America, Europe and Australia between 1980 and 1998 and in publications which sought to embody confusion and radical play rather than just describing it. Consequently, both Neoist festivals and Neoist writing experimented with radical undermining of identity, bodies, media, and notions of ownership and truth. Unlike typical postmodern currents, the experiment was practical and therefore existential. Monty Cantsin, for example, was not simply a collective pseudonym or mythical person, but an identity lived by Neoists in their everyday life....

In the early 1980s, the Neoist Reinhard U. Sevol founded Anti-Neoism, which other Neoists adopted by declaring Neoism a pure fiction created by Anti-Neoists. The Dutch Neoist Arthur Berkoff operated as a one-person-movement "Neoism/Anti-Neoism/Pregroperativism". Similarly, Blaster Al Ackerman declared himself a "Salmineoist" after Sicilian-American actor Sal Mineo, and John Berndt was credited by Ackerman as having given Neoism the name "Spanish Art," circa 1983. In 1994, Stewart Home founded the Neoist Alliance as an occult order with himself as the magus. At the same time, Italian activists of the Luther Blissett project operated under the name "Alleanza Neoista"....

Neoist plays like multiple names, plagiarism and pranks were adopted, frequently mistaken for Neoism proper and by mixing in situationist concepts, in other subcultures such as the Plagiarism and Art Strike 1990-1993 campaigns of the late 1980s (triggered largely by Stewart Home after he had left the Neoist network), Plunderphonics music, the refounded London Psychogeographical Association, the Association of Autonomous Astronauts, the Luther Blissett project, the Michael K Project, the German Communication Guerilla, and, since the late 1990s, by some net artists such as Other artists who explicitly if vaguely credit Neoism are The KLF, Luther Blissett, Alexander Brener/Barbara Schurz, spart and Luke Haines (of The Auteurs and Black Box Recorder).

Neoism is also mentioned briefly in David O. Russell's 2005 film I ♥ Huckabees. Dustin Hoffman's character says the word under his breath in response to Jason Schwartzman's experience to "the blanket thing," which is a method of understanding the universe derived from being zipped up in a body bag.

The California-based tech-pop band Brilliant Red Lights also applies the word in the song "Neoism," the first track off their second album, Actualism. The band imagines a literal--albeit applicable--definition of the word, defining it as "the culture of the new."

On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense


    In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the highest and most mendacious minute of "world history"é─ţyet only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die.

    One might invent such a fable and still not have illustrated sufficiently how wretched, how shadowy and flighty, how aimless and arbitrary, the human intellect appears in nature. There have been eternities when it did not exist; and when it is done for again, nothing will have happened. For this intellect has no further mission that would lead beyond human life. It is human, rather, and only its owner and producer gives it such importance, as if the world pivoted around it. But if we could communicate with the mosquito, then we would learn that he floats through the air with the same self-importance, feeling within itself the flying center of the world. There is nothing in nature so despicable or insignificant that it cannot immediately be blown up like a bag by a slight breath of this power of knowledge; and just as every porter wants an admirer, the proudest human being, the philosopher, thinks that he sees on the eyes of the universe telescopically focused from all sides on his actions and thoughts.

    It is strange that this should be the effect of the intellect, for after all it was given only as an aid to the most unfortunate, most delicate, most evanescent beings in order to hold them for a minute in existence, from which otherwise, without this gift, they would have every reason to flee as quickly as Lessing's son. [In a famous letter to Johann Joachim Eschenburg (December 31, 1778), Lessing relates the death of his infant son, who "understood the world so well that he left it at the first opportunity."] That haughtiness which goes with knowledge and feeling, which shrouds the eyes and senses of man in a blinding fog, therefore deceives him about the value of existence by carrying in itself the most flattering evaluation of knowledge itself. Its most universal effect is deception; but even its most particular effects have something of the same character.

    The intellect, as a means for the preservation of the individual, unfolds its chief powers in simulation; for this is the means by which the weaker, less robust individuals preserve themselves, since they are denied the chance of waging the struggle for existence with horns or the fangs of beasts of prey. In man this art of simulation reaches its peak: here deception, flattering, lying and cheating, talking behind the back, posing, living in borrowed splendor, being masked, the disguise of convention, acting a role before others and before oneselfé─ţin short, the constant fluttering around the single flame of vanity is so much the rule and the law that almost nothing is more incomprehensible than how an honest and pure urge for truth could make its appearance among men. They are deeply immersed in illusions and dream images; their eye glides only over the surface of things and sees "forms"; their feeling nowhere lead into truth, but contents itself with the reception of stimuli, playing, as it were, a game of blindman's buff on the backs of things. Moreover, man permits himself to be lied to at night, his life long, when he dreams, and his moral sense never even tries to prevent thisé─ţalthough men have been said to have overcome snoring by sheer will power.

    What, indeed, does man know of himself! Can he even once perceive himself completely, laid out as if in an illuminated glass case? Does not nature keep much the most from him, even about his body, to spellbind and confine him in a proud, deceptive consciousness, far from the coils of the intestines, the quick current of the blood stream, and the involved tremors of the fibers? She threw away the key; and woe to the calamitous curiosity which might peer just once through a crack in the chamber of consciousness and look down, and sense that man rests upon the merciless, the greedy, the insatiable, the murderous, in the indifference of his ignoranceé─ţhanging in dreams, as it were, upon the back of a tiger. In view of this, whence in all the world comes the urge for truth?

    Insofar as the individual wants to preserve himself against other individuals, in a natural state of affairs he employs the intellect mostly for simulation alone. But because man, out of need and boredom, wants to exist socially, herd-fashion, he requires a peace pact and he endeavors to banish at least the very crudest bellum omni contra omnes [war of all against all] from his world. This peace pact brings with it something that looks like the first step toward the attainment of this enigmatic urge for truth. For now that is fixed which henceforth shall be "truth"; that is, a regularly valid and obligatory designation of things is invented, and this linguistic legislation also furnishes the first laws of truth: for it is here that the contrast between truth and lie first originates. The liar uses the valid designations, the words, to make the unreal appear as real; he says, for example, "I am rich," when the word "poor" would be the correct designation of his situation. He abuses the fixed conventions by arbitrary changes or even by reversals of the names. When he does this in a self-serving way damaging to others, then society will no longer trust him but exclude him. Thereby men do not flee from being deceived as much as from being damaged by deception: what they hate at this stage is basically not the deception but the bad, hostile consequences of certain kinds of deceptions. In a similarly limited way man wants the truth: he desires the agreeable life-preserving consequences of truth, but he is indifferent to pure knowledge, which has no consequences; he is even hostile to possibly damaging and destructive truths. And, moreover, what about these conventions of language? Are they really the products of knowledge, of the sense of truth? Do the designations and the things coincide? Is language the adequate expression of all realities?

    Only through forgetfulness can man ever achieve the illusion of possessing a "truth" in the sense just designated. If he does not wish to be satisfied with truth in the form of a tautologyé─ţthat is, with empty shellsé─ţthen he will forever buy illusions for truths. What is a word? The image of a nerve stimulus in sounds. But to infer from the nerve stimulus, a cause outside us, that is already the result of a false and unjustified application of the principle of reason. If truth alone had been the deciding factor in the genesis [Genesis] of language, and if the standpoint of certainty had been decisive for designations, then how could we still dare to say "the stone is hard," as if "hard" were something otherwise familiar to us, and not merely a totally subjective stimulation! We separate things according to gender, designating the tree as masculine and the plant as feminine. What arbitrary assignments! How far this oversteps the canons of certainty! We speak of a "snake": this designation touches only upon its ability to twist itself and could therefore also fit a worm. What arbitrary differentiations! What one-sided preferences, first for this, then for that property of a thing! The different languages, set side by side, show that what matters with words is never the truth, never an adequate expression; else there would not be so many languages. The "thing in itself" (for that is what pure truth, without consequences, would be) is quite incomprehensible to the creators of language and not at all worth aiming for. One designates only the relations of things to man, and to express them one calls on the boldest metaphors. A nerve stimulus, first transposed into an imageé─ţfirst metaphor. The image, in turn, imitated by a soundé─ţsecond metaphor. And each time there is a complete overleaping of one sphere, right into the middle of an entirely new and different one. One can imagine a man who is totally deaf and has never had a sensation of sound and music. Perhaps such a person will gaze with astonishment at Chladni's sound figures; perhaps he will discover their causes in the vibrations of the string and will now swear that he must know what men mean by "sound." It is this way with all of us concerning language; we believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for thingsé─ţmetaphors which correspond in no way to the original entities. In the same way that the sound appears as a sand figure, so the mysterious X of the thing in itself first appears as a nerve stimulus, then as an image, and finally as a sound. Thus the genesis [Entstehung] of language does not proceed logically in any case, and all the material within and with which the man of truth, the scientist, and the philosopher later work and build, if not derived from never-never land, is a least not derived from the essence of things.

    Let us still give special consideration to the formation of concepts. Every word immediately becomes a concept, inasmuch as it is not intended to serve as a reminder of the unique and wholly individualized original experience to which it owes its birth, but must at the same time fit innumerable, more or less similar casesé─ţwhich means, strictly speaking, never equalé─ţin other words, a lot of unequal cases. Every concept originates through our equating what is unequal. No leaf ever wholly equals another, and the concept "leaf" is formed through an arbitrary abstraction from these individual differences, through forgetting the distinctions; and now it gives rise to the idea that in nature there might be something besides the leaves which would be "leaf"é─ţsome kind of original form after which all leaves have been woven, marked, copied, colored, curled, and painted, but by unskilled hands, so that no copy turned out to be a correct, reliable, and faithful image of the original form. We call a person "honest." Why did he act so honestly today? we ask. Our answer usually sounds like this: because of his honesty. Honesty! That is to say again: the leaf is the cause of the leaves. After all, we know nothing of an essence-like quality named "honesty"; we know only numerous individualized, and thus unequal actions, which we equate by omitting the unequal and by then calling them honest actions. In the end, we distill from them a qualitas occulta [hidden quality] with the name of "honesty." We obtain the concept, as we do the form, by overlooking what is individual and actual; whereas nature is acquainted with no forms and no concepts, and likewise with no species, but only with an X which remains inaccessible and undefinable for us. For even our contrast between individual and species is something anthropomorphic and does not originate in the essence of things; although we should not presume to claim that this contrast does not correspond o the essence of things: that would of course be a dogmatic assertion and, as such, would be just as indemonstrable as its opposite.

    What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphismsé─ţin short, a sum of human relations which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.

    We still do not know where the urge for truth comes from; for as yet we have heard only of the obligation imposed by society that it should exist: to be truthful means using the customary metaphorsé─ţin moral terms: the obligation to lie according to a fixed convention, to lie herd-like in a style obligatory for all. Now man of course forgets that this is the way things stand for him. Thus he lies in the manner indicated, unconsciously and in accordance with habits which are centuries' old; and precisely by means of this unconsciousness and forgetfulness he arrives at his sense of truth. From the sense that one is obliged to designate one thing as red, another as cold, and a third as mute, there arises a moral impulse in regard to truth. The venerability, reliability, and utility of truth is something which a person demonstrates for himself from the contrast with the liar, whom no one trusts and everyone excludes. As a rational being, he now places his behavior under the control of abstractions. He will no longer tolerate being carried away by sudden impressions, by intuitions. First he universalizes all these impressions into less colorful, cooler concepts, so that he can entrust the guidance of his life and conduct to them. Everything which distinguishes man from the animals depends upon this ability to volatilize perceptual metaphors in a schema, and thus to dissolve an image into a concept. For something is possible in the realm of these schemata which could never be achieved with the vivid first impressions: the construction of a pyramidal order according to castes and degrees, the creation of a new world of laws, privileges, subordinations, and clearly marked boundariesé─ţa new world, one which now confronts that other vivid world of first impressions as more solid, more universal, better known, and more human than the immediately perceived world, and thus as the regulative and imperative world. Whereas each perceptual metaphor is individual and without equals and is therefore able to elude all classification, the great edifice of concepts displays the rigid regularity of a Roman columbarium and exhales in logic that strength and coolness which is characteristic of mathematics. Anyone who has felt this cool breath [of logic] will hardly believe that even the concepté─ţwhich is as bony, foursquare, and transposable as a dieé─ţis nevertheless merely the residue of a metaphor, and that the illusion which is involved in the artistic transference of a nerve stimulus into images is, if not the mother, then the grandmother of every single concept. But in this conceptual crap game "truth" means using every die in the designated manner, counting its spots accurately, fashioning the right categories, and never violating the order of caste and class rank. Just as the Romans and Etruscans cut up the heavens with rigid mathematical lines and confined a god within each of the spaces thereby delimited, as within a templum, so every people has a similarly mathematically divided conceptual heaven above themselves and henceforth thinks that truth demands that each conceptual god be sought only within his own sphere. Here one may certainly admire man as a mighty genius of construction, who succeeds in piling an infinitely complicated dome of concepts upon an unstable foundation, and, as it were, on running water. Of course, in order to be supported by such a foundation, his construction must be like one constructed of spiders' webs: delicate enough to be carried along by the waves, strong enough not to be blown apart by every wind. As a genius of construction man raises himself far above the bee in the following way: whereas the bee builds with wax that he gathers from nature, man builds with the far more delicate conceptual material which he first has to manufacture from himself. In this he is greatly to be admired, but not on account of his drive for truth or for pure knowledge of things. When someone hides something behind a bush and looks for it again in the same place and finds it there as well, there is not much to praise in such seeking and finding. Yet this is how matters stand regarding seeking and finding "truth" within the realm of reason. If I make up the definition of a mammal, and then, after inspecting a camel, declare "look, a mammal" I have indeed brought a truth to light in this way, but it is a truth of limited value. That is to say, it is a thoroughly anthropomorphic truth which contains not a single point which would be "true in itself" or really and universally valid apart from man. At bottom, what the investigator of such truths is seeking is only the metamorphosis of the world into man. He strives to understand the world as something analogous to man, and at best he achieves by his struggles the feeling of assimilation. Similar to the way in which astrologers considered the stars to be in man 's service and connected with his happiness and sorrow, such an investigator considers the entire universe in connection with man: the entire universe as the infinitely fractured echo of one original sound-man; the entire universe as the infinitely multiplied copy of one original picture-man. His method is to treat man as the measure of all things, but in doing so he again proceeds from the error of believing that he has these things [which he intends to measure] immediately before him as mere objects. He forgets that the original perceptual metaphors are metaphors and takes them to be the things themselves.

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / How academics say "Law of Fives"
« on: April 10, 2007, 05:06:28 pm »

Social constructionism or social constructivism is a sociological theory of knowledge based on Hegel's ideas, and developed by Durkheim at the turn of the century. It became prominent in the U.S. with Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann's 1966 book, The Social Construction of Reality. The focus of social constructionism is to uncover the ways in which individuals and groups participate in the creation of their perceived reality. It involves looking at the ways social phenomena are created, institutionalized, and made into tradition by humans. Socially constructed reality is seen as an ongoing, dynamic process; reality is re-produced by people acting on their interpretations and their knowledge of it. Berger and Luckmann argue that all knowledge, including the most basic, taken-for-granted common sense knowledge of everyday reality, is derived from and maintained by social interactions. When people interact, they do so with the understanding that their respective perceptions of reality are related, and as they act upon this understanding their common knowledge of reality becomes reinforced. Since this common sense knowledge is negotiated by people, human typifications, significations and institutions come to be presented as part of an objective reality. It is in this sense that it can be said that reality is socially constructed.

Within social constructionist thought, a social construction (social construct) is an idea which may appear to be natural and obvious to those who accept it, but in reality is an invention or artifact of a particular culture or society. The implication is that social constructs are in some sense human choices rather than laws resulting from divine will or nature. This is not usually taken to imply a radical anti-determinism, however.[citation needed]

Social constructionism is dialectically opposed to essentialism, the belief that there are defining transhistorical essences independent of conscious beings that determine the categorical structure of reality. The specific mechanisms underlying Berger and Luckmann's notion of social construction are discussed further in social construction.

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