Courtesy of St. Tiwesdaeg Two Hands aka Brett who has kindly taken the time to convert the Black Iron Prison into epub and mobi editions for the filthy technocultists who carry around “tablets” and “smart phones”
“Black Iron Prison 2013: Common Walls is a collection of essays that explore the idea that while our collection of experiences are unique, the experience itself is shared. It tries to do away with the nihilistic narcissism so prevalent in today’s society, and foster a sense of belonging, of commonality. At the same time, it takes pains to avoid advocating for blind tribalism and conformity. In the end, Common Walls is a group of people writing about what it means to be alive and conscious in 2013, and what we should do with the other seven billion people on the planet”
So, it looks like ABC found a way to re-do the Milgram Experiment minus the shaky ethics.Â
Has the human race evolved a compassion gland after 40 years?Â Perhaps the leaps in technology have taught humans that “just following orders” is a shitty excuse?Â Maybe, just maybe, people will reject a sadistic “authority” and think for themselves?
Of course not.Â Just like last time, about 70% of the test subjects would willingly electrocute another human because they were told to.
However, some other interesting things were learned:
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The experimenters’ physical presence has a marked impact on his authority. As cited earlier, obedience dropped off sharply when orders were given by telephone. The experimenter could often induce a disobedient subject to go on by returning to the laboratory.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Conflicting authority severely paralyzes action. When two experimenters of equal status, both seated at the command desk, gave incompatible orders, no shocks were delivered past the point of their disagreement.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The rebellious action of others severely undermines authority. In one variation, three teachers (two actors and a real subject) administered a test and shocks. When the two actors disobeyed the experimenter and refused to go beyond a certain shock level, thirty-six of forty subjects joined their disobedient peers and refused as well.
“Perhaps only when rebels outnumber authority figures can disobedience readily spread.”
That last line sounds important.Â
This might be old news for some of you mind hackers, but there are ways of proving that your brain and body filter out external “reality” and add their own interpretations.Â And you don’t even need fancy drugs, or a laboratory.Â Next time you’re trying to argue the Black Iron Prison position, suggest a few of these experiments:
Ok, so they aren’t earth shattering.Â But at the very least, they demonstrate that we are constantly creating our own personal universe inside our heads.Â It’s good to know that it’s at least possible to consciously manage some of our perceived pain.Â And it should be pointed out that the Purkinje Lights effect is not only the basis for Gysin’s Dream Machine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreamachine), but it’s been suggested that Nostradamus used the same techniques to create his visions.
So, my little section o’ blag will be called SEEING IS BELIEVING. It basically revolves around how we perceive things, and how we don’t; cognitive biases, altered perceptions, theories on how the mind and thought works, and more mental models and maps than I know what to do with.
As an introduction, I offer a piece I wrote for “The Black Iron Prison” project over at http://www.blackironprison.com. It might give some impression of where I’m coming from, and the kind of stuff you’ll find, when I’m not just posting interesting links and commentary on other things I’ve found around the Webosphere.
Weâ€™re mostly blind. But this isnâ€™t really your fault; itâ€™s because of the shell of meat we happening to live in right now. Think, for just a moment, at the nearly infinite amount of things happening right now all around us. Iâ€™m sure you can think of quite a few things. Now, letâ€™s talk about them. You canâ€™t see any of the infrared or ultraviolet light spectrum. Unfortunately, this cuts out quite a lot of things your eyes were built to see. Sorry about that.
You canâ€™t hear anything below 20 Hz, or above 20 KHz . You can definitely feel about 12 Hz, if you play it really loudly. Go on, give it a try. With just those two examples, if you hadnâ€™t before, now you can really start to understand all the stuff you simply canâ€™t perceive. Iâ€™m sure you can think of five more examples of an immense class of Things that you canâ€™t notice are right in front of you. But it gets worse. Stop for a moment, and try to notice as many possible things in your environment that you can, simultaneously. Notice that, as you start to identify more and more objects, sounds, smells, and tactile sensations, you canâ€™t keep them in your head all at once. When you notice, for example, the pressure of your shoe against the ball of your foot, that distant bird chirping seems to fade from your attention.
And letâ€™s not forget about how much stuff you werenâ€™t paying attention to when you started reading this. Letâ€™s face it: We all live our lives with blinders on. We only allow ourselves to pay attention to 1% of what we physically can perceive, which is an infinitesimally small percentage of all the stuff in the Universe.
And that fraction of a fraction of a percent is what we usually call â€œRealityâ€. We call it â€œRealâ€, as if itâ€™s an unshaking firmament of solid Truth, that what we see is all thatâ€™s really â€œout thereâ€. But youâ€™re not even paying attention to the 99% of stuff that you can even sense.
And this â€œRealityâ€ is what we base our judgments on how the Universe â€œworksâ€ and what â€œshouldâ€ be Out There. We construct our actions and reaction to this 1% of available information, and reject everything else in the Universe. And then some Authority comes along, and tells you that they know whatâ€™s really real, and that you should do as they do. Talk about the blind being led by the blindâ€¦ or in this case, the blind being led by the incredibly stupid.
So, whatâ€™s the answer? Would it be best to try our best to see everything, all at once? Is the solution to try and tear down all the filters, to let your brain accept, acknowledge, and perceive every bit of information that comes your way? Would that help?
Are you kidding? It would completely shut down your brain. Trying to identify, recognize, and notice every single thing happening, all at once, all the time, would completely incapacitate you. And letâ€™s not forget that, due to physiology, itâ€™s still impossible to perceive a great deal of the Universe, anyway. And because itâ€™s totally impractical to try and simultaneously perceive what little bits of the Universe our senses can pick up, in order for us to function in our lives, we are forced to shut out certain things. But who, or what, is choosing the things we do perceive at any given moment? That, my friends, is the question.
Was it your parents? Was it the years you spent in school? Was it the TV? Was it a band? Was it a book you read? Was it a preacher you heard? Was it the kid who pushed you down when you were five? All of the above. The way you see the world, my friend, is a patchwork quilt of individual experiences, shaping the way your mind works. â€˜Round these parts, we call these things the â€œbars and walls of your Black Iron Prisonâ€.
Now, before you go on with the idea that all this is somehow Negative and Depressing, letâ€™s break down the phrase. Weâ€™re not saying itâ€™s an Iron Prison that is Black (Bleak) that youâ€™re in because youâ€™re being punished for some sort of Karmic wrongdoing.
Rather, whatâ€™s being said is that in order to function in your day-to-day life, there are necessary limitations your body and mind impose on your perceptions. Thatâ€™s the Prison. The phrase â€œBlack Ironâ€ refers to cold wrought iron, which is strong, usually shaped by hand, and often beautiful.*
But back to the main question, then, and the issue of who chooses your perceptions. Of course, the Large Answer is, â€œyour entire life up to this point,â€the patchwork quilt referred to above, stitched panels of the things you have learned, whether they were imprinted, conditioned, or learned, either consciously or subconsciously. But thatâ€™s a bit too large. What it comes down to, is that you are the one in charge of your Prison. Itâ€™s you that has shaped the Black Iron bars that let you see the small parts of the Universe that you base your decisions upon. Sure, you can say that itâ€™s not your fault that your parents raised you as a racist redneck (for example). But it is your fault if you take that as a given, as if that bar in your cell is a permanent thing, something thatâ€™s been there since before you were born.
But wait. Thereâ€™s more. The guy sitting next to you, theyâ€™re focusing on completely different things than you are. Their entire upbringing has pretty much determined what theyâ€™re going to pay attention to, just as your entire life up to this point has shaped what youâ€™re looking at right now. You know what this means, right? This means that everyone is living in a different Idea of the Universe than everyone else. Itâ€™s a miracle that we can agree on anything. Just imagine, billions of people, all looking out at a different Universe from between the bars of their own personal Prison. â€œOkay, big guy,â€ you say, â€œSo whatâ€™s really out there, if youâ€™re so smart?â€ I have to tell youâ€¦
I donâ€™t know. I have the same blinders that you do. I live in the same kind of box. But I will say one thing. My saying â€œI donâ€™t knowâ€ doesnâ€™t mean, â€œI donâ€™t know, and I donâ€™t care, because thereâ€™s no way to escape the biology of my sense.â€ I say, â€œI donâ€™t know, but I want to find out. I want to try and see and feel as much as I can, I donâ€™t want to take somebodyâ€™s word for it, I want to keep exploring, and figuring shit out. I want to walk out of my Prison Cell, even if I just end up in another one. Iâ€™m not content only seeing a fraction of whatâ€™s out there.
Because hey, who knows what kind of fun Iâ€™m missing?
I’m a little neurotic anyway.Â I think I’m also probably just on the edge of being OC.Â Anyhoo, ever since I stumbled upon this Discordian thing, I’ve used it to reassess things I do in my little life.Â One of those being Daddyhood.
I was a Dad before I was a Discordian.Â Or, I was a Dad before I discovered I WAS a Discordian, or at least, a Dad who had inherently shared some Discordian-like philosophies.Â I think it was really the discussions that lead to the BIP metaphor and pamphlet where I really started to reassess how I was operating as a Father.Â And I’m not talking about the basics of feeding, clothing, providing shelter, that sort of thing.Â It’s really more about the guidance I provide her.Â I’m well aware that no matter what I do, I WILL be a major factor in how her bars in her BIP are built.Â There’s simply no way around it, not that there should be.Â The question becomes, how can I best allow her to maximize HER control over her bars?Â
An easy example is when she was a young toddler she took a fascination to trains.Â I think it started with a free book the pediatrician gave us during one of her checkups.Â A basic board book about trains.Â Naturally, she eventually became aware of Thomas the Tank Engine and became enamored with the TV show and the toys.Â Western societal norms suggest that these would be “boy toys”.Â When you see the commercials or ads in magazines, they show little boys dressed in blue playing with these things.Â Rarely do you see a little girl.Â Now, I know, I know, “big whoop, you let your girl play outside of the gender box.”Â And you’re right.Â But the thing of it is, there are many parents out there who would steer a little girl towards Barbies and away from Trains and Trucks.Â And it can often be an unthinking or unreasoned reaction.Â This is what I try to avoid, without becoming anal about it.Â
I think this falls under the “picking your battles” meme that is pervasive in many a Parenting book or magazine.Â Where this meme falls short, however, is delving into normative behaviors.Â It’s great to explain to a Parent how sometimes it doesn’t make sense to fuss over whether or not they eat every single carrot.Â But what I would like to see more of is talking to parents about not making a fuss over every time their child acts a little goofy in public.Â I think many parents try so hard to prevent their child from becoming Dennis the Menace that they end up unwittingly caging their character.Â The joyful anarchy of childhood needs to be unrestrained and allowed to explore the territory of the world.Â Obviously, this has to happen within the confines of safety and security.Â
Discovering the Discordian philosophies and being a part of the development of the BIP ideas has been a very good experience for me as a Daddy.Â I think I have developed aÂ better understanding of just how much I can impact without knowing.Â It’s given me a unique perspective on my role as a parent.Â As much as I need to keep her physically and mentally safe, I also need to provide the freedom for HER to find out who she is.Â It is a joy to see it unfold.
Ah… what it means to “think for yourself.”
Most of us don’t, most of the time.Â
I would include most of PD.com in that, sometimes.*Â Because this gets wrapped up in one of the problems many of us have found to be a core issue of Discordia: the Filters, the Grids, the Prison Bars, the vital and trecherous habit of compartamentalizing.
If you start at the raw state (not the RAW state, mind you), you get an assload of sensory input.Â So, the brain, all by itself, starts putting things in categories.Â “This is like that, so we will associate these with those.”Â Eventually, we work our way up to a rough understanding of the world.
This process tends to work pretty well, so we start using it in other ways.Â But this is where we really start running into trouble.Â Our compartamentalizing turns into generalizing, and slips into “All A is B.Â This looks like an A, so it must be B.”Â We look at new experiences as if they were old ones, so we can put new things in established compartments.
Essentially, without knowing it, we tend to fall into the habit of trusting people, or things, or ideas that are comfortable to our brains.Â They get inside our bullshit detecor perimeter fence.Â So when something happens, or someone says soemthing that falls within our trust zone, we accept it as truth without question.
Mind you, this is a fairly useful habit if you actually want to get things done.Â There is much in this Universe that doesn’t affect you, and that doesn’t need to be parsed in fine detail.Â I would guess that 95% of the shit that gets thrown at you every day isn’t really worth your time to fine tune.
But it’s that 5% that gets you.
So, back to that original point.Â What is “thinking for yourself”?Â I’d say it’s the art of going back to your assumptions, categorizations, habits, and tendencies, and breaking them down.Â Figure out where you got your opinions.Â What influenced you?Â Do you trust them?Â What are the counter arguments?Â Which works best for you right now, not when you were 13?Â Is “just because” a good enough answer?
You break down your opinions, and sniff out where you just went ahead and trusted something without a second thought.Â That doesn’t mean you have to reject it; many times, you end up agreeing with it.Â But now you have a more solid foundation of what you think.
*Do you like how I’m E-Priming the shit out of this?
the illegitimate son of convention has completed a brand new track entitled “do you know?”
Â the piece was composed and recorded over the last month or so.Â it isÂ a fairly ambitious 20 minute long piece, but I think, it is one that moves right along and doesn’t drag.Â Musically, it certainly channels the spirit of a Sonic Youth/Thurston Moore song.Â Starts with some nice, jangly, unprocessed guitars, playing simple chords in an alternate tuning.Â Then about halfway through, the distortion/feedback love fest begins.Â
Â On top of this musical landscape is an improvised sermon/rant based in Black Iron Prison philosophy.
Â I think you will enjoy it.Â Go to this link to download the song: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=GCPVFU3D
Shrapnel. Something exploded, and a piece of it embedded in your flesh. Now you have to carry that around with you for the rest of your life.
It affects you. In changes the way that you behave, you take the experience of being hit by that shrapnel with you in every decision that you make. Even if you remove it, the scar remains. Even in its absence, it informs your decisions.
For the most part, the explosions are essentially random, when taken from a subjective view. Someone else planted these things, and you walk right into it. These things may have exploded centuries ago, but the shrapnel is still in the air. Still able to pierce into the heart of you.
Often, they tell you where to go. They push you onto new paths, or keep you going down the one youâ€™re on. They can blind you, they can cripple you, they can make you afraid to continue. They can accumulate, like scales, like armor, like a lead weight. Given enough time, they can even render you impervious to other bits of shrapnel. But not forever.
Shrapnel is not subtle. Itâ€™s just that we donâ€™t recognize it for what it is. We get hit full in the face, and we donâ€™t even realize what just happened. We know [i]something[/i] just went down, but what?
You heard a symphony.
You read a story.
You went to school.
You got a job.
You fell in love.
You got into a fight.
You fell out of a tree.
You were mugged.
You got an erection.
You listened to a preacher.
You took drugs.
You got lost in the woods for 3 days.
You lived your life. And you carry that with you. Each thing that got the limbic system pumping, every â€œaha!â€, all the moments of simmering rage, each instant of blissâ€¦ They all left their bits of shrapnel in you. They all push and prod you in directions you might not even have intended to go.
But you donâ€™t have to be one of the walking wounded. The choice is yours. Self-surgery is messy, but itâ€™s possible. Search out the bits that got stuck into you, see if theyâ€™re worth keeping. Then get a pair of pliers and an exacto knife, and get to it.