Swimming Against the Stream

Computers

Timely Issues

Astrological Clock
The Great Astrological Clock in the Old Town Square of Prague. A great example of late medieval public clock making, complete with bells, calendar, automata figures that move on the hour, horns, and especially the figure of Death as a skeleton with an hourglass draining the sands of time away. All the while tourists gawk like sheep while missing the message of the value of our time on earth.

Well I have been busy on my new YouTube channel The Anadromist with a lot of ideas that I just didn’t have time for here. Especially my thoughts on Time and how to live in it instead of against it. We live in a culture that positively reeks in its hatred of the effects of Time. We want everything to happen now. Instantly without waiting. And the more I have thought about our defective relationship to Time the more central a role I have seen it play it the insane dysfunctions of the 21st Century: the politics, the propaganda, the efficiency of technology, the environment, the waste, the virtual worlds we choose to inhabit, the surrender of our imaginations to the grinding gears of commerce, the imitation worlds we create for tourism, the sense of entitlement, the dullness of work. Not that these things have a simple one answer fits all panacea, rather they are all issues exacerbated by the desire have the convenient instant life, or in other words to live as though Time were an enemy that must be vanquished at all costs.

I started to see our faulty relationship to Time as a problem in the early 90s. I gave a lecture on the subject at Swiss L’Abri in 1993. I have been mulling it over ever since. In many ways this is connected to many of my other ideas about Texture, Beauty, Images and many other subjects. But these thoughts about Time are at the center of my view of the dilemma of life as it is now lived. Feel free to disagree. After you’ve spent time listening to what I have to say.

Now after delaying long enough I’ve decided to get my ideas about Time out there in some form that might be of use to someone else. I have tried to the best of my ability to live by these ideas since I formulated them back in 1993. If you do the math that’s over 25 years of practical outworking. And the one thing I have seen clearly, when you add the effects of Time to life it gets much deeper and richer.

I am not saying that we are allowed to do this at all points. Au contraire. Just in transportation alone it is nearly impossible to live within a human sense of the meaning of time. We are required to move too fast to stay sane. Still one can, for instance, still apply these principles to the planning stages of a journey. To stay longer in places, rather than just passing through. That’s a simple way of incorporating Time into the hustle of the tourism industry. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Anyway there are four video discussions now. And if you are thinking that ideas about Time are probably going to be dreadfully boring, then these talks really are for You. So you can start at the beginning or jump around. The argument builds, but necessarily in a straightforward direction.

(And I’ll keep adding the videos here until the series is finished.)

Well I need to get back to my life in Tbilisi Georgia. Oh and by the way there will soon be a channel on my Georgian life so stick around.

Keep swimming against the stream

Byrne Power

Tbilisi, Georgia

29/8/2019

……

Oh yeah…

Hey! People who are contributing to my sites are getting extra content not available online. They are also keeping me alive in Georgia. I must honestly say without the gifts given to me thus far this experiment would have collapsed a while ago. No much keeps me going for a while. So give through PayPal. $10 a month or a one time gift of the equivalent of $50 US. Gets you another 15 hours worth of lectures.

Here’s the Link CLICK ME!!! NOW. Please…


21st Century Propaganda #9: Can You Trust Anyone?

Damned Kids
Whom can we trust?      (Image The Village of the Damned.)

So here we are. Propaganda has taken over most of our communications. An atrocious incident in New Zealand suddenly escalates the psychic war. The Left shrieks that this is the fault of everyone not aligned with them. The Right digs in pugnaciously. And no doubt there will be more events of a similar kind from different factions in the not too distant future. Interestingly the old school media have completely overlooked the many Christians thus far killed in early 2019 by Muslims in Africa, the Philippines and other locales in their own drumbeats of suppression. Because clearly Africans (280 in Nigeria) and Filipinos are not on the list of people anybody actually cares about. They don’t figure in our propaganda wars. And yes real life massacres and violence are certainly part of this largely mental battleground.

austin_zombies

The Signs Are Everywhere.

There was a January attack on a church in the Philippines by Muslims that killed 20 and injured 80 people. Suddenly that becomes worthy of news because the media largely ignored it. In the wake of the Christchurch Massacre rightish media suddenly brings this incident out to say ‘Why do you spin things only one way?’ But then the numbers get inflated by angry propagandized right wingers. The dates change from a month or so ago to yesterday. And thus the massive propaganda trash fire continues to burn. Then someone in the leftish media says your numbers and dates are wrong. So therefore you are completely false. We saw a similar back and forth about Charlottesville. But truthfully everything is an info shuttlecock in this savage game of propaganda badminton. And this reminds me of what Joseph Goebbels said. “The truth is always stronger than the lie.” essentially all propaganda must be based on facts. Which is how the National Socialists took the assassination of a German by a Polish-Jew in Paris France and blew it up into Kristallnacht, the night in 1938 when the cruel violence of the Nazis against the Jews was fully unleashed. Remember this when you are convulsed by an isolated event and want immediate political action. That is exactly how propagandists ratchet up the tension. An event sparks reaction before the event is even known or understood.

North Carolina SNow 2014

The Current Mediascape.

And so in this moment of heated tension the question then remains where can one go to get information that is at least less tainted by the all consuming maw of Propaganda. This is a much trickier question than it at first seems. One thing that is clear is that all of the mainstream sources are fairly difficult to trust now. One is completely immersed in Propaganda in the guise of news as one listens to CNN, the Washington Post, even respected sources like the BBC, NPR and New York Times all in their turns have fallen ill to varying degrees of this contemporary sickness. Gone are the Walter Cronkites and the Edward R. Murrows who while not being purely objective bystanders did their level best to give a middle-of-the-road perspective on the news of the day. Interestingly both worked for CBS News. And while CBS is not what it used to be it still seems to be fairly reliable when contrasted to the disinformation sideshows that the Washington Post and CNN have become.

3_BEYOND-THE-BLACK-RAINBOW-_-52212

What to Believe?     (Image from Beyond the Black Rainbow)

And other sources? The New Yorker, MSNBC, Vice, the Huffington Post, Time, Newsweek, The Daily Beast and on and on. Pretty much it’s a pox on all of their houses when it comes to really trying to serve all of the public. I mean Russia Today and Al Jazeera seem to be in the same league as they are. The biases drain out from under them like contaminated water from a defrosting refrigerator. For instance, when a writer compares Trump to Hitler you know you are in the presence of seriously distorted Propaganda, with no concern for history or truth. And when these same media pretend that there is only one point of view? Welcome to the Propaganda wars. And you may notice that all of these sources are slanted, in some cases heavily, to the Left. That’s not an accident.

Is the Right any better. I’m certainly not shilling for Fox News, yet there are times when due to their obvious biases they are less affected by certain forms of hysteria infecting the other media. Having said that I also would not trust them any farther than I could spit. Even more so with Breitbart News. Or the New York Post. And the Wall Street Journal must always stay in the realm of economic propaganda. While occasionally doing bizarre things like accusing Youtuber Pewdiepie of being a neo-Nazi. Only to eventually have to retract it much later. And curiously the right wing sources are much less name brand recognizable than those tilting left. And thus those on the obvious Right sling their propaganda mud with alacrity.

A Rope tied to the Left Hand

And if the Center Does Not Hold?

But the center is not holding. The Left has drifted continually into extreme territory until they are casually redefining the nature of male and female, what makes a country, and the meaning of democracy. What a few years ago would have been taken as obvious by most folks, that men and women are different biologically, that a country has borders, that a legal vote reflects the will of the populace, have all been dragged severely in the last few years to the synth drumbeats of so much propaganda. People have even forgotten what they used to believe. And I mean five years ago. And the vanguard of these new ideas, media figures and university students, will often act with complete shock and hurt that anybody still believes such shameful hateful ideas as biological sex, the nation state or elections, such as the Brexit Referendum or Trump’s victory, that go against the will of some of the people. And so these areas have, like a California wildfire, become a burnt over zone. All that’s left it seems is rage.

Man on Roof Wild Fire

California on Fire.

Meanwhile the illusion in the antique media is that the rather minuscule Alt-Right, whom, without fact checking, they conflate with Neo-Nazis and the KKK, are taking over. And so they take a figure like Canadian professor Jordan Peterson and vilify him as some sort of ‘far Right’ extremist because he is saying things which used to be considered liberal leftish opinions not too long ago. The truth is he is center Left. Yet he knows how to speak across the spectrum as many public intellectuals used to do. And when the Left media pundits try to trap him they, like the BBC’s Kathy Newman did last year, blunder into a dialogue they can’t win, because they are only feeding on the surface level frenzy of issues while Peterson actually has a grounding in the much wider and deeper cultural arena of history and science. Now I say this not agreeing with everything Peterson says, yet having a lot more respect for him than I do the majority of opinion makers that decorate the dying mainstream and digital media.

And that is the point. We have to get out of our slanted boxes and listen to people with differing ideas from our own. However I must immediately remind myself of a serious dilemma posed by Jacques Ellul. It is not enough to simply start listening to the ‘enemies propaganda’. In any set of ideas there are honest commentators, historians, journalists, thinkers and then there a multitudes of propagandists, who are usually getting the most ‘Likes’. Ellul points out that caught between two conflicting propagandas one doesn’t come to know the truth. Rather like being caught between two prizefighters one ends up getting slugged senseless. Or worse, simply converting from one form of propagandized belief to another. Which is why I’ve been aghast to see young people who begin to question the intersectional beliefs of third wave feminism then start moving towards a white genocide belief. As though there was nowhere in between. It’s like saying all that there is are Communists and Fascists. So avoid the propagandists!!!

Cannibal Women

Out of the Frying Pan into the Fire

The good news is that through people like Jonathan Haidt, Jordan Peterson, Tim Pool, Joe Rogan, Sam Harris, Paul Vanderklay, Camille Paglia, Christina Hoff Sommers and many others an alternative network (the Intellectual Dark Web or IDW) that does allow real open discussion and disagreement has started to form. One of the best aspects of the insanity of the present moment is that there are some people truly talking again, not only on YouTube, but in lecture halls and seminars. It’s strangely refreshing to here atheist Carl Benjamin (aka Sargon of Akkad) defend Christianity. Or to know that atheist Sam Harris and Jordan B. Peterson, who is some sort of Christian, had a series of epic discussions on the existence of God, where the audience didn’t even want to stop for questions so fascinated were they by the conversions. Gay and straight folks are having the kinds of dialogues they should had for the last 30 years, which allows all questions and challenges on the table. Journalist Tim Pool is attempting to start an alternative news source called Subverse practically alone. And this sort of thing is being completely ignored by what YouTube commentator and occultist Styxhexenhammer666 calls the ‘lame stream media’. And these discussions and videos go on for hours. Where is the soundbite mentality? Well it’s still there on CNN, the BBC, on clickbait Buzzfeed posts. But I do believe people are hungry for the intellectual nutrition that our global commercial networks have denied them to the point of malnourishment.

Hitchhiker

Be Careful of Who You Pick Up.

How then to detect a person with ideas worth taking seriously from any stripe? First of all, do they acknowledge the messiness of every interpretation including their own? Can they see why a person would believe something other than what they believe? Do they respect opinions radically different from their own? Do they have a real sense of history? Do they point out when they get their facts wrong? Are they humble about their knowledge? Do they believe in truth? Of any kind? Do they know that others outside of their belief structure can also understand truth? Do they agonize over the state of humanity with compassion and not accusation? These kinds of questions to me all point to the kind of person you can learn from no matter what their belief. Nobody can be perfect in these things. But do they have these as some sort of goal? If so the you are in the presence of someone who lives in this world, and not a fictional propaganda echo chamber. If you are arguing with them when you read, listen or watch them you are at least arguing with someone living in the same world that you live in. And while you might see things differently and have come to different conclusions they are different conclusions about the same reality.

Deep Thoughts

Time for Reflection Not Reaction.

Now I can’t tell you whom you should trust. But I can tell you some of the people I have been listening to myself. They come from various perspectives. Some of them I radically disagree with. But they are honest in their opinions and worth wrestling with if you are a thinking human being. In other words this is not a list for the immature, whether they be 12 years old or 75.

So take this for what it’s worth. In a future addendum to this series I will add clips of YouTube vlogs, speeches and interviews. As of this writing all of these people are living and still contributing to the discussion. There are many more I could add, but this will be a good starting place. And YouTube searches would be the best introduction. I have not tried to represent every possible ethnicity or viewpoint, because my feeling is that that sort of empty gesture is part of the problem not the cure. This is what I found helpful for myself. You will certainly find others.

Besides the living, the dead having even far more to say to us. But I have rambled on too long for now.

bosch hell

Bosch Understood What Happens When You Move With Entropy, Not Against It.

And so this will be the official end of this series of essays. If you been following my main thrust you’ll see that my view is that the primary issue confronting humanity in this time of chaos does not come from any specific political issue or ideology. Rather it can be seen this way; while fewer people have died in wars in the 21st Century as died in the last century by this same point, most folks today are far more fearful of and confused by where we are now than they were then. Why? Propaganda. We live in it as it invades our consciousness from every orifice of technology. And yet there is hope if we can start to enter the conversation with real creativity and with real people.

I will give the late Canadian media critic Marshall McLuhan the last word.

“Jacques Ellul observes in Propaganda: ‘When dialogue begins, propaganda ends.’ His theme, that propaganda is not this or that ideology but rather the action and coexistence of all media at once, explains why propaganda is environmental and invisible. The total life of any culture tends to be ‘propaganda’, for this reason. It blankets perception and suppresses awareness, making the counter environments created by the artist indispensable to survival and freedom.”

Foggy Woods

Finding Our Way in the Fog

And finally just a few names of living people that I trust in different ways. These folks have ideas worth hearing even if you or I disagree with them.

Camille Paglia – American Art Historian, Lesbian, First Wave Feminist, Atheist (Center Left maybe)

Christina Hoff Sommers – American Historian, Philosopher, ‘Factual’ Feminist, Author, YouTuber (Center Left)

David Thomson – British Film Critic, Author of many books and essays (Center Left)

Jonathan Haidt – American University Professor, Social Psychologist, Author (Center Left)

Jonathan Pie – Scabrous British Satirist, Socialist (real name Tom Walker) YouTuber (Left)

Jordan B. Peterson – Canadian University Professor, Clinical Psychologist, Jungian, Author (Centrist)

Julia Turansky – Canadian Anarcho-Christian, YouTuber (Channel Brave The World) , Mother

Ken Burns – American Documentarian, Author, TV Producer (Center Left)

Ken Myers – American Radio and Podcast host Mars Hill Audio (Center Right)

Niall Ferguson – British Historian, Television presenter, Author (Center Right)

Os Guinness – British Author, Christian, Lecturer (Center Right)

Paul Vanderklay – American Dutch Reformed Pastor, YouTuber (Center)

Robert D. Kaplan – American Historian and Journalist, Machiavellian, Author (Centrist)

Roger Scruton – British Philosopher, Television Presenter, Conservative Commentator, Art Historian (Center Right)

Simon Schama – British American Historian, University Professor, Television Presenter (Center Left)

Slavoj Zizek – Slovenian Marxist Postmodern Philosopher, Author, Television Host (Left)

Stanley Crouch – American Jazz Historian, African American Social Commentator, Novelist (Center)

Suzannah Lipscomb – British Historian, Television presenter, Author (Center)

Tim Pool – American Journalist, YouTuber Trying to Create an Honest News Source (Center Left)

Timothy Garton Ash – British University Professor, Historian, Journalist and Author (Center Left)

Timothy Keller – American Presbyterian Pastor, Author (Center Right)

…..

The addendum will come very soon.

Thanks for reading this and pondering these things with me.

….

Byrne Power

Tbilisi, Georgia

24/3/2019

….

Hey I really could use some help with what I am doing here in Tbilisi. My Gravity From Above project has stalled and my resources have become limited. Anything you choose to contribute can be done through PayPal. Click this.

And if this essay was of value pass it along.

 

21st Century Propaganda: Addendum #1


21st Century Propaganda: Addendum #2

A Glossary of Propaganda Jargon 2017

America 2017

Whither America 2017? Or is it Wither America 2017?

This is a rather random list of propaganda words used in the last two years. A majority of these words are found online and universities more than in standard speech. Yet they are certainly invading reality. I have purposely not defined these words since even definitions of them can give away political leanings. And it is decidedly not my goal to engage in this kind of political wrangling here. Instead my objective is to point out the sheer number of them. Now many of these words are not exactly new. But the spin being given to them is. The majority of these words, or the meanings now given to them, were almost off my radar about three years ago. You can conduct your own investigation to discover their many meanings. A few of these words are actually useful. Most of them are of less use in everyday life, but will help you understand the mindset developing out there. And it ought to give you pause to shudder.

And here’s a challenge. How many of these terms do you know? My thought is this: If you don’t know any or many. You are a human being. You live in a world blessedly free of these concepts. You may be a bit on the naïve side. But your humanity is not in doubt. If you know some of them here and there you are probably influenced by them but not in too strong a way. If you know about half of them. You have very serious problems. Chances are you only know your interpretation of reality. If you know most of them and find half of them to be funny well I have a pretty good idea where you are on the spectrum (and you’ll get the pun). If you know most of these words and find half of them to be really scary, I just want to apologize. If you know them all you are either spending way too much time in social media or you are a historian of the moment like yours truly… and sadly.

If you are just coming across this list in the abstract I’d recommend going back to the 21st Century Propaganda series and start reading.

Thanks for stopping by.

Byrne Power
Haines, Alaska
9/26/2017

Cthulhhu_edit

Once upon a time it was a fish symbolizing secret Christian meetings in ancient Rome. Then it became a casual bumper sticker for Christians too lazy to talk. Then it grew legs with the slogan ‘Evolve’. This Lovecraftian tentacled Elder God of destruction sums up where we are now: Sarcasm and nihilism.

The Glossary

Agender
Alt-Left
Alt-Light
Alt-Right
Antifa
Asexual
Black Lives Matter
Body Shaming
By Any Means Necessary
Cis
Cisgender
Cisgendered
Cis-Het-Male
Creepy (Used of men, mostly older men)
Crybullies
Cuck
Cucked
Cuckservative
Cultural Marxism
Deplatform
Doxxing
Echo Chamber
Fandoms
Fat Acceptance
Furries
Gamergate
Genderfluid

Heteronormative
Hugbox
Identitarian
Identitarianism
Identities
Intersectional
Intersectionality
Invalidating My Existence
Kek
Kekistan
Kekistani
LARPers
LGBTTQQIAAP
Libtard
Mansplaining
Meme
Meme Wars
Memes
MGTOW (Pronounced Mig- Tow – rhyming with cow)
Microaggressions
Misgendered
On the Spectrum
Otherkin (Dragonkin Wolfkin Catkin etc.)
Patriarchy. The
Pepe the Frog
Privilege
Pwned
Rape Culture
Red Pilled
Regressive Left

Safe Space
Shaming
Shitlord
SJW
Slur
Slutshaming
Snowflake
Social Construct
Sperg
Sperg Out
Sperged
Sperging
Sperglord
TERF
Third Wave Feminism
Tism (Autism)
Trans
Transgender
Transman
Transphobe
Transphobia
Transphobic
Transtrender
Transwoman
Trigger
Trigger Warning
Virtue Signaling
White Genocide
Woke

KKK vs BLM

Nobody Will Win the Propaganda War


21st Century Propaganda #6: The Synth Drumbeats of War

Propaganda proceeds by psychological manipulations, character modifications, by creation of stereotypes useful when the time comes – The two great routes that this sub-propaganda takes are the conditioned reflex and the myth.                             Jacques Ellul – Propaganda

Anon

The eerie Guy Fawkes mask, Propaganda symbol of hacker vigilantes Anonymous, were an early sign of this new world we have moved into with such ferocity.

Back in the early 90’s, before most people were converted to anything called the Internet, just after the Soviet Union finally collapsed, I noticed that a very high percentage of Americans hardly even noticed the end of the Cold War. And except for new European tourist possibilities the reality of an end to this monumental ideological struggle barely impinged upon the waking consciousness of the majority of US citizens. There were no bells ringing. People did not dance in the streets. In 1989 we did watch on television as Berliners danced on the Wall, but after the 1991 coup in Soviet Russia, which spelled the end of the very real Cold War epoch, people generally hunkered down and went about their business. Why? (And what about China, Cuba and North Korea?)

 

I quickly came to realize that most folks in North America had already found a new enemy and a new war to fight: What we now call the Culture Wars. Interestingly enough, at the time, the mainstream pundits in newspapers and on television even disparaged the term as Conservative Propaganda. I seriously doubt many folks do anymore. If the last election proves anything, it certainly reveals the radically divergent viewpoints that have festered since then.

Aids Harring

One of the early Act Up Propaganda Posters by Keith Haring that would help foster the Culture Wars. A Pro-Life Poster would have had the same effect.

Back in the early 1990’s a thought came to me as I walked through Soho in New York City one afternoon. I realized that we had entered a new troubling realm. That, as we had increasingly come under the influence of Propaganda as our window to the world, we had become more divided than ever. More ominously it was inevitable that, following Jacques Ellul’s logic, in the future PROPAGANDA, in a very real sense, WOULD BE THE WAR. In other words that war would be take place in and for our minds first and foremost. This warfare might lead eventually to real war, but long before that there would be mental and emotional battles causing deep psychic damage amongst vast swathes of the populace. Sadly that is exactly where we are today. We are in the midst of the Propaganda War. And it is vicious, ugly and irrational on all sides. It is chaotic, noisy, infesting the mind with arguments and hatreds, with deprecations and scorn, with fear and neurosis. The chaos of the mosaic wall of cultural noise has become deafening and is transforming itself into something lethal. And we are all wrapped up in it.

Zero Tolerance

And whatever happened to the classic definition of Tolerance?

And apart from all of the obvious clutter, and in even more insidious ways, it has become far too commonplace for each of us to give into the fire hydrant flow of Propaganda blasting from today’s polarized ‘news’ sites straight into the open mouth of social media. It is a gusher so intense that people simply react without even a pretense of concern for something as obvious as facts, fairness or logic. And I do mean all of us (no one is excluded here). I feel it within myself. Folks are hysterical about politics these days. It reminds me of nothing less than Weimar Germany. The dark fluctuations between extreme Left and Right. People jump straightway from event to demonization without a second’s notice. The filters for deliberation seem to have vanished altogether. The time it takes to process anything seems to take as long as it takes to type this sentence down and make a snarky comment.

Fake news

And so is this… In this time of accusation.

But here is the truth. All of these people we demonize are still human beings: Trump is a human being, though he often acts as a caricature. Neo-Nazis are still human beings, repugnant as their ideologies are. Social Justice Warriors are still human beings, though they seem to have gone out of their way to insist that any traditional notion of humanity is obsolete. Black Lives Matter are human beings even though the perpetually play the victim role while snarling at those who don’t understand. Muslim terrorists are still human beings no matter how many lives fall under their rage. Antifa are human beings though they openly evoke a serious variation on Communist ideology and perpetrate hatred on those who they say are haters. (And what does the word hate mean anymore? When if you merely dislike a Marvel movie you can be considered a Marvel ‘hater’.) Everyone you disagree with and find to be useless and vile are still human beings, and deserve to be treated with humanity and compassion no matter who they are and what they believe. But as Jacques Ellul said in his book Propaganda: ‘Hate, hunger, and pride make better levers of propaganda than do love or impartiality.’

 

I have been monitoring these things much more seriously in the last year and the words Civil War have started to appear more and more on both Left and Right wing sources. Wait a minute let me stop and say that again. Civil War… Do you have any idea what that means? Can you see the piles of corpses and smoking ruins? Do you realize what the body count was from the last Civil War? Does your political correctness or mockery demand we feed Moloch with our children? Or adults? Our future? In order to create the world you imagine?

Anonymous Rebels

What is the distance between protest and war?

And the Middle which held things together has become scarce indeed. As the generations of World War 2 remembering souls shuffle off the stage forever, that is folks who dealt with actual Fascists and Communists, we have replaced them with American citizens with no real grasp of history. Even the most educated among us are quite thin in historical understanding. To call Trump a Fascist is to have no understanding of what Fascism truly is. This is not to praise Trump. Populism and Fascism are two very different things. This is obviously a low point in American history. There are indeed elements on the extreme Right that are metastasizing. Does it need to be repeated over and over that not everyone who is right wing or voted for Trump can be tarred with the vitriol spewing from the Left and their general lock on the media. There is bile enough on both sides to go around. And most of it is spread by means of social media in one form or another. I don’t even trust my good friends when they give in to the heat of this Propaganda moment.

 

One of the scariest experiences I had in the last year occurred when I watch one of the presidential debates through YouTube. Now all of the media live-streaming this ‘event’ had comment columns, which whizzed by insanely, making the notion of commentary a ersatz farce merely due to the blinding speed of it before one could actually attempt to read the messages scrawled on what essentially has become the bathroom walls of our culture. That same speed-induced vertigo is evidenced when an author or YouTuber conducts a LIVE Feed. You see the well meaning host trying valiantly to catch up even to reading the hundreds or thousands of comments. Comment is reduced to hand waving or Sharpie scrawls.

 

But the dire nature of the problem smashes you in the face with a sledge hammer when you take a moment to read the comments on a political forum. It’s strange we live in times where the mantra has for far too long been ‘Be positive!’ And it is my observation that this childish slogan has produced its exact contrary opposite. It has created a violent beast. And that is America 2017. A frightened ill-informed populace of citizens who no longer have the character to weigh issues, to delay judgement until the facts are in, to measure events against history. And I mean the leaders as well as the voters. It’s as if the Cold War, World War 2, the Civil War, and American Revolution had never occurred. One sees people carrying torches in emulation of Triumph of the Will, or another group insanely chanting ‘Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!’ rather than allow a centrist speaker to talk, one sees lesbians castigated for refusing to consider romance with trans ‘women’, light skinned black folk sidelined for the color of their skin by darker hued more politically charged comrades, and that word (!) ‘Comrade’ is coming back into Left wing fashion, as if the bodies of 100 million people hadn’t already been slaughtered to the cause of perfect identical equality. And I mentioned earlier the rise of antisemitism on both the Right and the Left. All in all we are seeing the forces dehumanization everywhere… and that is should freeze the blood of anyone truly conversant in history or actual politics. (But how can you see people as human beings if most of your contacts are made online?)

Expand this to full page. Then watch the comment scroll here if you dare.

And the comments? They scrolled by like the droolings of hell. From Alt-Right Kekistani mockery to Left wing crybullies. To read them as an outsider, as someone who lives in the real world, was to peek into the pathological heart of America and our 21st Century heart of darkness. There was no entrance of human language into this maelstrom of political psychosis. To write anything was to indulge in the fantasy of that the Internet has allowed one’s words to speak meaningfully into this chaos of visual and aural noise. The only thing one could say is to paraphrase Jeremiah, later quoted in the book of Revelation, where we are instructed concerning the nightmare city of Babylon to “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins or contract any of her plagues.” Come out of cyberspace! Retain your humanity. Stop living in this virtual lie. Flee the political Propaganda boiling on all sides and shared by your ‘friends’. Remember your human neighbors, left and right. Use the computer with great skepticism, but live offline. Because if we don’t then the vitriol of minds poisoned in this Propaganda War will spill, as it already has, onto the streets. If you stare into your palms long enough you will see this. And it will rivet you to the spot. And you will have no answer but more Propaganda. Come! Live out here with those of us that strive to retain the physical world. Those who attempt the difficult task of caring for humanity, even those we completely disagree with.

Red Pill

A Right wing ‘Meme’ against the SJW’s and Normies.

(But wait Byrne! I hear a possible Christian friend saying. I know you’re a Christian. Doesn’t Christ have the answer? Oh yeah. I forgot. Much as I hate to say it, we Christians, likewise, have simply colluded in this whole process just like anyone else. Don’t believe me? Come back next time… Well on second thought… maybe you shouldn’t. It’s not going to be pretty.)

(Now I have to get off line again. I’ve already spent too much time typing away in the virtual dark.)

Byrne Power
Haines, Alaska
9/19/2017

 


21st Century Propaganda: Addendum #1

Social Media and Horizontal Propaganda: A Lecture

Socail Media Propaganda

A little Social Media Propaganda for you.

Following on from the last 21st Century Propaganda essay, ‘Propaganda and Social Media’, I wanted to add a lecture that I gave at L’Abri Fellowship in Huémoz, Switzerland, back in February of 2016: Social Media and Horizontal Propaganda. This is a video version of a lecture that did NOT have visuals with it. But included in this video is a full array of propaganda posters.

If you live online I hope this raises questions for you. It’s about an hour and a half. So maybe download it and listen to it later. And do please let me know what you think.

 

Byrne Power

Haines, Alaska

9/7/2017

 


21st Century Propaganda #5: Propaganda and Social Media

Again I want to emphasize that the study of propaganda must be conducted within the context of a technological society. Propaganda is called upon to solve problems created by technology, to play on maladjustments, and to integrate the individual into a technological world. – Jacques Ellul

Prop as prop

In the spirit of Anti-Propaganda Propaganda, a sarcastic ‘meme’ featuring the late Gene Wilder from Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory having essentially the same effect as a bumper sticker saying ‘Bumper stickers are stupid.’

People have often reacted in a utopian manner as new technologies burst onto the scene. The automobile promised the endless joys of travel, and without having to feed a horse! We now know that the car and the highway are not anything resembling unmixed blessings. Traffic, commuting nightmares, highway fatalities, pollution, the entire social fabric of many communities being completely enveloped by the spaces created for the automobile. It would be easy to argue (and to win) that the car is one the greatest devil’s bargains of history. As Paul Virilio has pointed out: When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent electrocution… Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress.

And thus the utopian hopes of the internet as being a mode of open communication and knowledge, have now given way to the realities of commercial control, spam, invasion of privacy, trolling, endless payments, and most sinisterly, the constant monitoring of our activity below the horizon of our intended purposes. Visit a clothing website and then see an ad for the same product you just searched for on your Facebook page. Pay for an item in another country and have your bank shut down your card through their fraud detection services. (Both of these things have happened to me.)

social-media-should-not-be-censored

Again more Propaganda disguised as Educational choice. Make a ‘Choice’.

Not many years ago people were naïvely and insanely lauding the glories of social media as though there could be no problems attached with same. I’m imagining the reader will already be aware many instances of issues related to cyberbullying, texting nightmares, even Facebook depression, when you see your friends supposedly wonderful lives of headlines and captions and realize that your own life isn’t like that. Recently I have been made more aware of the neurotic result of connecting one’s Facebook notifications to your smartphone, as it has negatively impacted at least one friendship. But I’d like to discuss the growing dilemma of social media as perhaps the best platform for spreading Propaganda that has ever existed.

social-media-should-be-censored1

And if you Vote for this what does it say about you? Perhaps that you are a lab rat pressing a lever to obtain the food of imaginary Choice.

A word before I proceed: Jacques Ellul discusses two directions of Propaganda, the Vertical, what is often top down messaging, and the Horizontal, what we pass along to each other. Vertical Propaganda is what we are more familiar with; government statements, corporate slogans, public health warnings, political campaigns, etc. But I would say in these times Horizontal Propaganda is what has the biggest effect upon us. Horizontal Propaganda effects us much like the old illustration of crabs in a bucket. No one crab is allowed to crawl out because the other crabs hold the individual down when it tries to escape. Likewise how easy it is to live within the walls of one’s favored ideology without being allowed to raise serious questions about those same ideological presuppositions.

Smartphone

Do these Branded Icons make you free?

Now you may not notice this issue much if all of your ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ are in the same air bubble you are. That is you don’t see the ‘meme wars’, because to you all of those snide jokey little images with words imbedded in them are just humorous little moments crushing the opposition. Just press ‘Like’ and LOL along with the flow of friends all the while feeling superior to the idiots out there who voted for ‘them’, or ‘him’, or ‘her’. Or maybe suddenly you’ve discovered a cause? Here are a few causes that suddenly seemed to overshadow the humanity of various friends of mine: PETA, Gun Rights, Gun Control, Pro-Life, Gay Marriage, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Personally I’ve got to tell you this: If anything starts to infest my Facebook page I immediately ‘unfollow’ you. I keep you around as distant background noise, but until I see evidence of genuine human sharing I don’t need the clever little film with the ironic music tearing down yet one more political figure. And I feel exactly the same way about online game invitations, quizzes and surveys (really these are just clickbait sites for monitoring your cookies), product recommendations, jokey sites (often more clickbait with motives other than spreading humor) etc. and again I repeat ad nauseum.

christian-posters-23

If this verse from the Bible is true, then what shall the creator of this poorly made, badly conceived, out of context ‘meme’ reap from God?

These ‘shares’ eats into our human time as we swat away the technological flies. And then there is that most egregious symbol, the changing of your profile avatar image to coincide with some recent political event. Suddenly your photo is rainbow tinted or painted with the French flag or an anti-abortion campaign. And here’s what I know… These people usually have little direct connection to these things, they are merely ‘virtue signaling’. In the French case I’m pretty sure I had far, far more direct connections to Paris or France than 99.9% of all of the folks that posted French flags after the terrorist bombings. And does anyone even think about France anymore? (I do). Or are we now just thinking about Trump and Charlottesville, Virgina? Or have we moved on to hurricane victims? Or maybe Muslims in Myanmar? Or wherever we are when you finally read this?

Awesome Muslims

Above or below. Choose your narrative. (Read Slant.)

muslim woman

These two images give us a good idea of what the ‘meme wars’ have been like. You pick your image based on temperament rather than research and verification.

In the wake of the Charlottesville fracas I’ve been astounded at how quickly people have simply reacted. And immediate unfiltered thoughtless reaction is the key to this new ‘public’ life of ours. The idea of trying to understand the event seems to be an impossibility. For too many people there can only be one version of the event. And yet I’m pretty sure that if we sat down together as human beings I could show anyone enough raw feeds, without interpretation of the event, to convince you that this was not a simple narrative. And yet the frightening thing is that to ask any questions at all about the dominant interpretation of the event is to instantly invite a witch hunt of, again, immediate reaction without the benefit of research or meditation. We create precisely what we fear because we push those with differing opinions away into extremes. I am convinced that many folks today are considering white nationalists ideas who would never have done so if the extreme left hadn’t been allowed to dominate the interpretation with their own version of identity politics.

Think Different

Just make sure you stay connected technologically. It’s fantastic how many untruths can be contained in one slogan.

The sad thing is this: I had a friend, not too close, but with whom I once had meaningful real world conversations years back. This person mentioned something in a post that seemed to invite reflection and comment. I commented in a mildly questioning manner of the dominant ideology. I was ‘unfriended’ instantly. Since then I have learned that it is not important to post political topics at the expense of human friendship. This doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions. I do. I most certainly do. I can also guarantee that they do not tick off neatly on the right or left side of the page. I have tried to be thoughtful. (And sometimes I am so tempted to reply to some ill considered idea posted somewhere and add to the Propaganda morass, but my convictions won’t let me.) It could be argued that my friend was not a good friend and, well, good riddance. Or it could be said that she was in the grip of ideological Propaganda as many others are in these days. Should I reject them out of hand? Or should I attempt to show them in some insignificant way what it means to be human. I choose the latter. But I am under no illusion about these folks. They are under the spell of something intractable, fearsome and unforgiving. Yet I still believe in compassion, courage and forgiveness.

So where are we now? That will be the subject of my next essay. Come back again. You probably won’t want to know what I need to say. Nevertheless, like a car crash on the side of the highway, you will have to look and ponder.

Byrne Power

Haines, Alaska

9/12/2017

 


21st Century Propaganda #3: Alone In The Mass

Alone in the Mass

The most favorable moment to seize a man and influence him is when he is alone in the mass. It is at this point that propaganda can be most effective. Jacques Ellul

And that is exactly where we all are now. As you read this on some device, right now, you are alone. Alone in the mass of others reading websites, scanning pages and files. You are alone as you watch television, play video games, watch DVDs, listen to music through your ear buds, create content for YouTube to be passively digested, alone with your email, Kindle, sitting in dark movie theatres, listening to radio while driving your car. With very few of these devices are you actually doing something with anyone else.

And don’t let the term social media confuse you. There is not, nor ever has been, a true internet community. Six people playing an online game together are alone in the mass. People typing at each other through a message system are isolated from each other. Even the telephone, which used to sell itself as a way to reach out and touch someone, is a way of retaining the alienation inherent in the technology while using the language of touch and the senses. The notion of interactivity through computers is a phantasm, a pure illusion. True community, social interaction, and touching only take place in the flesh. And one could argue quite convincingly that one of the more recent aspects of inviolable 21st Century Propaganda, is in fact the substitution of real presence for the highly mediated world we now find ourselves inhabiting. Who ‘Likes’ what on Facebook has far more significance than it in any way deserves. And yet we are completely immersed in these virtual signs and symbols. And we accept it all as real because we are alone in the mass. As prescient media theorist Marshall McLuhan said “All media work us over completely. They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered. The medium is the massage.” And yes he meant massage, not message. Tenderizing us to receive the Propaganda we addictively need to feel a sense of purpose in this fictional landscape.

Jacques Ellul, in his book Propaganda, points out that It is the emergence of mass media which makes possible the use of propaganda techniques on a societal scale. In other words that world of technology that we often celebrate has also opened the door to the total Propaganda that we now find ourselves drowning in.

Revolutions Paris
The stately old propaganda of the Revolution is plastered over by the Revolutionary propaganda of the moment, ca. April 2016 Paris. My question is this: In what way do the teddy bears and plush toys have to do with this epoch in history? And they most certainly do. There is no more innocence in cuteness.

On some level wherever there is a large power structure there must be a kind of propaganda to connect us to it. The Romans had coins with the image of Caesar, bread and circuses, and the fearsome legions among their propaganda arsenal. The Renaissance Catholic church had stained glass windows, fine arts, and when all else failed, and in complete corruption of their faith, the Inquisition. America has always had its education, its mighty industries, its armed forces and later its television and its senatorial committees. But all of these institutions now seem quite obvious to us. If you tell many of its citizens that “America is the greatest country on earth” they will see through the old school propaganda instantly and roll their eyes back in ironic superiority. And yet these people are swimming in a morass of contemporary Propaganda.

Poison Girl
We have reached such a moment in time that Truth in Advertising can now be used as propaganda against us since we will ironically feel superior and smirk in knowing way.

So then it might seem logical to become the most informed person you can be to ward off the effects of this all encompassing Propaganda. Au contraire. For one thing, there is the problem of being caught between propagandas which I mentioned earlier. But more to the point… Being intelligent, an intellectual, keeping up with issues etc. often has exactly the opposite consequence of making us even more susceptible to propaganda. Ellul writes about the problem this way:

It is only normal that the most educated people (intellectuals) are the first to be reached by such propaganda… All this runs counter to pat notions that only the public swallows propaganda. Naturally, the educated man does not believe in propaganda; he shrugs and is convinced that propaganda has no effect on him. This is, in fact, one of his great weaknesses, and propagandists are well aware that in order to reach someone, one must first convince him that propaganda is ineffectual and not very clever. Because he is convinced of his own superiority, the intellectual is much more vulnerable than anybody else to this maneuver.

One sees this problem endlessly. I referred to it when I mentioned Noam Chomsky earlier. It’s astounding how many musicians, writers, artists, broadcasters, other media figures, are essentially propagandists for their worldview rather than honest communicators. And they speak in such a way as to be mockingly aghast that anyone could possibly have another opinion. And they convey their messages to the masses. One can see whole careers that suddenly turn into campaigns for an ideology, and this is especially sad when it is someone who starts off as an honest artist. Consider Bruce Springsteen’s trajectory from songwriter and artist, capable of such pieces of art as his whole Darkness At The Edge of Town album, which shills for no causes whatsoever, to his becoming a global superstar during his Born In The USA era, the endless remixes of songs give a sense of some loss in authenticity, to his becoming a mouthpiece for various causes as a kind of surrogate for a middle America he no longer represented, to finally cancelling shows in North Carolina as part of a massive skirmish between competing propagandas. I do not discuss the issues (nor will I print comments on these issues since they are not the subject of this essay). I am pointing at the process which turns a singer, artist or any figure from honest communicator into a cog in the propaganda of the moment. It doesn’t matter which issue. (And have no fear I plan on taking a scythe to trim the heads of my fellow Christian propagandists not too far down the road here.)

denirobrucebarack
No comment. The notion of wearing colored ribbons and other signifiers of causes and beliefs is exactly the kind of encirclement that Propaganda specializes in. It doesn’t matter the cause.

The point is this: the rich, the talented, the beautiful (or at least those who have gone under the knife to appear that way) and the famous are mass figures enlisted to provide a propaganda push to every cause. They are the authorities used to convince us to submit. So we line up our celebrities, the Christian football player, Madonna against Trump, this television star, that YouTuber, we want to know that what we believe is better than what they believe. Recently some wag released a series of photos of women on the Right and the Left. By the purely visual standards of beauty alone the Left is deep trouble, at least by the lights of this compiler. Of course they left off practically every film or music star imaginable which would have evened the playing field considerably. But certainly in recent times the Right has stolen some of the Left’s caché in the requisite categories needed to show strength in this appearance obsessed society.

Right Wing vs Left Wing Women
If image has anything to do with it the Right Wing is winning at the moment.

Meanwhile as this propaganda battle continues the rest of us are alone in the mass looking to emulate someone to help give words to our frustration. And it is in this state that we are slugged, worked over, beat up, harangued, pressured, and especially these days, shamed into believing the only thing we should believe in. And here is where it gets nightmarish. It is no longer coming from the top down. It is no longer Orwell’s Big Brother that is the primary source of the propaganda. Nor is it our larger than life media siblings who invade our thoughts most deeply and effectively. Rather it is our ‘friends’ and ‘neighbors’ who now keep us in line through a little system we call ‘social media’.

We’ll look into this soon, but first let’s examine another salient feature of Propaganda: Us versus Them.

Byrne Power

Haines, Alaska

6/1/2017

 

21st Century Propaganda #4: Us Versus Them


Sacred Cows #2: Fun – Sacred Cow in Extremis

 

Yes let’s have some fun.

And if by fun you mean let’s enjoy a few pleasurable amusements, a game of hide-and-go-seek with flashlights in the dark, spitting watermelon seeds at a picnic, a roller coaster ride at a carnival, I say why not. I don’t mind gales of laughter, bad jokes told well or rolling down a slope covered in snow. But incorporated in this traditional idea of ‘fun’ is the notion that these are occasional temporal diversions. They are not a standard feature to be achieved in daily life. They are separate moments not representative of the whole. These little moments of pleasure are like the bubbles blown by children. One pinprick and they are are gone. Thus a phrase like “Life is fun.’ would be totally meaningless in almost any traditional view of human culture that you could summon up.

Carnival Poster

A remnant of the old school of fun.

Yeah but who still holds a traditional view… Therein lies the sacred cow that I intend to roast. In a world pickled in ever changing technologies and rapidly evolving variations on narcissism and nihilism disguised as individualism, anything smacking of tradition is pretty much castigated and mocked as unevolved and, even more tellingly, as boring.

Live Laugh Love

A statement of universal values 21st Century style.

It’s curious to me how many times in my life I have heard people justify pretty much any activity in the name of ‘Fun’. Everything supposed to be Fun: Music is Fun. Food is Fun. Sports are Fun. Driving can be Fun. Sex, of course, is Fun. Flirting is Fun. Cheating is Fun. (Till the tears begin.) Dogs are Fun. Movies are Fun. Videos of bestiality are Fun. (This is not an exaggeration.) Boxing is Fun. Fighting is Fun. Drunk driving is Fun. (Until you wrap the car around tree.) Yoga is Fun. Christianity is Fun. Shouldn’t politics be Fun? Travel is Fun. Italy is Fun. Bosnia is now Fun. Fun is whatever you define as Fun. Everything is Fun!

Jesus is 100% Fun

The folks who made this probably were under the impression that they were communicating the message of the Bible.

Except things that are the antithesis of Fun. Things that are boring. Classical music? Ballet? Mid-20th Century art films? Boredom. Reading a long book about the history of the Gulag is just plain work. Heck picking up a physical book and lugging it around is is a lot more boring than watching YouTube videos of car crashes in Russia.

And over time I have heard any number of apologias for life’s meaning involving Fun with a capital ‘F’. “Don’t be so serious, let’s just have some Fun.”, “As long as everyone’s having Fun, right?”, “As long as you are having Fun, that’s the key.”, “You gotta have Fun.”, “As long as I’m having Fun, I’ll do it.” or as Heath Ledger once said “I only do this because I’m having fun. The day I stop having fun, I’ll just walk away.” And then he did.

Heath Ledger Nihilist Joker

Heath Ledger takes his Nihilistic Fun a little too seriously as the Joker in The Dark Knight

But what is this new conception of Fun? It is indeed very illusive. It has become a state of being so wide as to incorporate our etiolated sense of meaning itself. If I translate the unfocused usage of my peers I come up with a something that is perhaps pleasant and largely free of pain, though even variations of stupid injury can be roped into this new idea of Fun. I think it has to do with laughing a lot, smiling, a kind of no risk low level ecstatic experience. Maybe we can just call it the Big Wow. A sensation filled existence without the tedium of logic or rehearsal. The entertainment industry is key here. And it most certainly is an anti-intellectual creature. You really can’t question it.

Yet it doesn’t take very long in considering this teleological concept of Fun to see the massive gaping holes in such a worldview. Both raising children and caring for the elderly are situations where things get a whole lot less than Fun very quickly. It takes a commitment that moves far beyond the laughter of a moment to get you through these relationships. In fact most of life takes a kind of tenacity to get beyond the pain, the repetitions, the fears, the misunderstandings, the endless practice it takes to be truly good at anything. Yet somehow this wireless dreamworld we call contemporary existence has deluded us that all of the traditions are invalid as we pay our tickets for our very own personalized fun houses.

How did we get here?

Are we having Fun yet? Headstone

Everything can be Fun

(To be continued…)

Byrne Power
Haines, Alaska
July 4th 2013


Sacred Cows #1: Sacred Cows for the Barbecue

 

Zlote Tarasy 2

Woodstock for the early 21st Century: Złote Tarasy in Warsaw Poland

Please excuse me, I’ve been nice for a while now. The time has come to barbecue a few sacred cows.

Which might lead someone to say OMG! Are you really trying to offend Hindus?!

And which is precisely why I’m writing…

Bizarrely, after years of scorched earth counter-cultural products that have suggested all manner of nihilistic rebellions, we are left, not with black garbed existentialists crying over the alienation of humanity, but with an almost infantile culture of folks deliriously caught in a fast food playplace for endlessly emerging adults, who tend to see the world in fun, cuddly, positive terms as they giggle (LOL) through the endless global mall while texting extraordinarily blank verse into the universe.

Zlote Tarasy 5

M.C. Escher-like escalators at Złote Tarasy

I recently took a trip through Europe to investigate the meaning of puppetry, how perhaps, there might lurk in the humble realm of the puppet something real, something tangible that might aid humanity in its virtual addictions. And I did indeed find much that heartened me. The European puppet folk of my acquaintance were, in general, quite aware of what puppetry might be able to mean in such a high-tech age. The puppets themselves were inspiring as individual one-of-kind handmade artworks. Those learning the art of puppetry seemed to have a leg up on those in other fields of learning. And yet…

I remember more than one moment where I said to myself aloud, maybe its too late already. I remember the sinking feeling I had in Poland as I wandered through the massive seven story mall next to the Warszawa Centralna train station. And Poland is a country I love. Yet here was a perfect replica of what had once been a California styled shopping mall. And everyone seemed happy to wander through this emporium of material delight. Here were endless chain stores and franchise food services. Here were the big hollywood movies and the brand name off the rack clothes. Here was that same sense of credit emptying glut and spent detumescence. Here were the blank souls wandering lost and hopeless. And to think that the Poles gave up the tyranny of communism for this mindless 21st Century Woodstock of the Złote Tarasy (Gold Terraces).

Zlote Tarasy 13

Spent Consumers at Złote Tarasy in Warsaw Poland

Or then there was the moment in Hallstatt, Austria, when I found myself alone beneath a glowing full moon on All Hallow’s Eve wandering through the most haunted graveyard I’d ever experienced under the freshly frosted medieval town on a mirrored lake as the other guests in my pension stayed indoors because “there was nothing to do” and they would rather live scrunching their fingers over and staring into handheld digital screens. And I thought to myself, how can the real world compete with these pointless and distracting virtual gadgets? Actually what I said to myself is this… Is there any hope left?

Dude chill. It’s not that bad. There’s a lot of serious fun to be had. Lighten up! Get a life. If you see snow get a snowboard. You rocked that midnight medieval stroll scene. Don’t worry about those other peeps. They’re just hanging out. They’ll come out and play eventually. As long as everyone’s having fun, right?

Absolutely wrong. When did fun become some sort of foundational reason for living? Blessed are the funseekers because they shall rule!

And fun is not alone in this brave new world that has such people in it. Cute is another strange little sacred calf that has been slicing the rational portions of our culture away in more recent times. I mean if cute means something comparable to ‘baby-like’ how can anyone critique something that is like a baby! Heavens to Betsy!

And to critique, that just sounds so judgmental. Criticism doesn’t really help anyone. Don’t be so left-brained. Be positive. Try to get along with people. Do not hurt anyone’s feelings… ever. Certainly not by implying anything negative about them. Don’t tell them you disagree, even when you do. In fact you think all sorts of people are wrong. But you don’t have to hang with them because they aren’t fully… well one doesn’t really want to say human… but you know. Yet among the people, the real people, your online friends, do not criticize their beliefs. It’s just so wrong. Remain positive.

Positively… I hear the loudest most ominous holy moo coming from this direction.

Zlote Tarasy 10

The Model of Good Living at Złote Tarasy

But before we get there let’s have some Fun with a capital F first.

(to be continued…)

Byrne Power

Haines, Alaska

6/16/2013


Recipe for a New Dark Age

An Old Truck full of Sweaty Dynamite on a Decaying Bridge. (Sorcerer 1977)

Ingredients:

Historical Events (the larger the better)
Radical Doubt (it helps if this is quite philosophical)
Religious Irrationalism (this can be quite stale)
Nihilism (there’s nothing to be said about this)
Pop Culture ( the more commercial the better)
Nostalgia (see Pop Culture)
Technology (you can’t find enough of this!)
News (easily obtainable 24/7)
Entertainment (see News)
Economy (see Conspiracy Theories)
Propaganda (not what we believe)
Conspiracy Theories (see the Internet)
Fun (the fresher the better)
Positivity (this is good)
The Internet (information that meets your needs)
Social Media (maybe it will even be viral?)
Human Beings (wherever you can find them)

Preparations:

Take several large historical events, these should be events so large that they cannot be understood without diligence, but are easily incorporated into Conspiracy Theories (see below). World War Two, the Cold War, the Social Upheavals in the 1960’s, the Rise of Computers will all do nicely. (Others can be added.)

Sprinkle Generously with Radical Doubt (particularly in the University setting), Religious Irrationalism, Nihilism

Whip in 50 years of Pop Culture with the predominating message of personal freedom, following your dreams, living on your feelings, acting upon your desires, doing your own thing, listening to your own heart, living instinctually or simply being intuitive. Make sure you strip from Pop Culture any messages anything that suggests using one’s intellect, caring for others at the expense of the self, fighting for Truth (don’t even think capital ‘T’). These bacteria of misguided Pop Culture might spoil the Dark Age we are trying to make. But don’t worry about the sad songs, the endless stream of broken relationships, the depressing movies. All of these can add a pungent spice to our eventual New Dark Age. Also religious messages in various media are perfectly wonderful as long as they are strictly personal and deal exclusively with what seems to work for the individual in a confusing world. Also anti-religious messages are to be encouraged, especially if they are said religiously.

This Should Probably Be Seen as a Study in Colors.

A word of caution about adding books: Stick with the books most reflective of current Pop Culture (self-help books, lavishly illustrated books, pop fiction, crossword puzzle dictionaries, trendy subjects), although certain philosophical books might also help as well. Any book that suggests that there is no point to learning, no matter how densely written, is certainly worth adding. They are like fine ingredients with a fragrant truffle scented Nihilism. But it’s probably best to add the popular, more cheerful versions of these ideas. So in other words: Nietzsche? Yes, but watch out for shards of reality that might taint the texture. Dawkins? Perfect. Simple overstatements that allow the reader to feel superior. But anybody’s oversimplifications will do.

Continually add new modes of Technology for personal listening, viewing, reading and general consumption.

Now put into a mixer and blend thoroughly. As time passes add more and more Nostalgia to disguise the taste, which inevitably leeches out during the cooking process.

Pour into a pot with portions of News and Economy. (Make sure you save enough News and Economy to use later.) Simmer for several decades.

Now while you are waiting for the pot to boil you can begin preparations for next phase:

Lets start working on our Propaganda crust.

First of let’s start with the News. Make sure that the News is first and foremost largely bits of repeated information marinated in Entertainment. Let’s make sure that the graphics of magazines completely obliterate the line between editorial and commercial content. Make sure that the News is primarily visual. I can’t stress this enough. It doesn’t matter what is believed as long as it pictorial. Avoid adding meaningful language! (It’s even better if you have a theory stating that all words are essentially worthless.) Make sure the News is full of images. It doesn’t matter if they seemingly contradict each other. As long as we find News with a low word content. The perfect use of words can be seen in advertisements: Words rendered vacuous and turned into pure graphics. Let’s make sure our News whatever the source is like that as well: Headlines and captions.

Now let’s add more Entertainment. Really you can’t add enough Entertainment. In fact let’s simply make everything entertaining. Let’s make old high school photographs entertaining. Let’s make politics entertaining. Let’s televise everything we can. But avoid old books!!! Don’t go near them. Unless we can suggest through a movie based upon an old book that the past was identical to the present. And that the past was Fun.

That’s the next thing! Let’s add some real Fun. (Let’s not define this word though, let’s leave it as a teleological abstraction.) Let’s make sure that people think having Fun is the number one reason to be alive.

And let’s make sure to add Positivity. This corruption of certain old religious principles is a wonderful additive. It will fit in quite nicely with more Religious Irrationalism. (Remember that Religious Irrationalism can be of any persuasion including Atheistic.) And the overall benefit is that in public people will value getting along together over anything resembling intelligent discussion. It will actually make people more sensitive and envious and will help fuel their not so hidden desires to rip into  anyone who disagrees with them in the virtual media.

Dare You Disagree? London Rioter ca. 2012

Now we add our well seasoned Propaganda. The best Propaganda has been fermenting in different forms since World War Two. The content doesn’t really matter as long as we make sure of two things. One, that people should always be sensitive to the Propaganda of other groups. And Two, never become aware of their own. Always keep in mind that we must have an Us and Them. We are the honest ones. They are stupid inhuman fools. In other words the best Propaganda is always disguised as truth, our truth. (Disguising it as truth will also help us to keep any stray strands of actual Truth out of this recipe, which could spoil much of our New Dark Age.) Make sure that Propaganda surrounds us at every orifice.

And the best way to do that is to add more Radical Doubt, more Nihilism and now let’s add our Conspiracy Theories… to taste. (You know who is responsible for this mess. That’s right Them!)

Add lot’s more Technology. Keep people swimming in new technology. Don’t let them fully get the hang of the present. But always hold the present out as a goal. Avoid ANY serious historical research of the past. Keep the future vague but ominous, unless our Propagandists are right.

Mix seductively with Social Media. In the past we used to get our Propaganda from large media organizations. But we have perfected this with the Internet. Now we can simply stay immersed in our own Propaganda bubble. Our eyes go blood red when we hear anyone speak a syllable we disagree with. Since there is very little dialogue in reality anymore Propaganda comes not only to us on the Internet, but through us. Perfect. While people still fear their own versions of Big Brother (Big Government, Big Corporations, Big Media, Big Money, etc.) in fact they have become Little Sister and Little Brother. They post endless pictures, photos, cartoons, videos, articles, at each other on Facebook, never realizing that in doing so they further substitute Propaganda graphics for real life words.

Finally we shape our Propaganda crust into personal sized pies and fill with the simmering ingredients.

Oh! And add what’s left of your Human Beings.

To keep things simple. Let’s not make anything else. Let’s consign all of our words, images, sounds, films, data to the Cloud. Let’s not own these things. Let’s consign them to the days of a past, and goofy, materialism. Add more Fun. Press Like.

This is a man-made underground gas fire that has been burning about 40 years. It’s called “The Door to Hell” in Darvaz Uzbekistan.

Now cook.

We suggest a decade, possibly two, on a fairly consistent heat. Keep sprinkling with bad environmental and economic News and lots of Positivity and Fun. DO NOT ADD any real dialogue between people of differing views. Protest? Absolutely! Talk? No.

Now unplug the Internet with a prolonged attack by Anonymous hackers, wretched Spammers, other fed up souls pickled in Nihilism and sick of the Virtual World we have all (Us and Them) created.

And voila! A perfect New Dark Age!

There are other recipes, but if this is what you are craving … Bon appétit!

We’ll be lucky if the New Dark Age look like this.

Does anyone know how to make shoes anymore?

Byrne Power
Haines, Alaska
3/8/12


Dispatches from The Anadromous Life

The mainstream has vanished... with all its power and money. Now it was just us,bloggers, hackers, kids.

The more voices there are, the more spin there is. The truth becomes that much harder to find. In the end it’s all just noise.

From George A. Romero’s zombie film Diary of The Dead

……….

I’ve been officially been writing The Anadromous Life for a year now, since November 8th 2010. My only commitment has been to do this for one year. The year has passed.This seems to be a good moment to reflect on what I’m trying to accomplish and what I feel is the point of doing this.

The Flag of What Country? .... © Byrne Power

I suppose a good place to begin is to wonder who has been reading this and whether it has communicated anything. On a purely statistical level it has been curious to watch the numbers grows. WordPress has of course provide all sorts of statistics. It is easy to become obsessed with the numbers. But numbers are always abstract and mean very little in reality. One piece of data is interesting though. By the time you read this I will have had 14,000 hits on my sites on my way to 15,000. But what does that mean? 14, 000 people? Certainly not. If someone drops into The Anadromous Life and them clicks on several photos, each click is counted as another hit.

And speaking of photos, I have become quite skilled at finding the largest and most interesting photo files imaginable. I know that many people drop onto the site searching for a good reproduction of Bob Dylan’s John Wesley Harding album. I’ve had 147 people come to the site based on the search term “John Wesley Harding”. The all-time search phrase is some variant on “Mickey Mouse Evolution”, well over 1,000 hits, which doesn’t exactly thrill me. But hey what do I know? Maybe they are indeed all coming here to expose the creepy little rodent and his nefarious relationship to our society. Then I would indeed be glad. But I will continue to use interesting illustrations, most of which seem to be from promotional material or public domain. Because I know that a person who drops looking for a still from the Texas Chain Saw Massacre might just see that that the photo is not on some questionable site but rather is connected to a few thoughts and stick around to read the rest. I have indeed had a few comments that seem to reflect exactly that process.

And when it comes to comments I am always happy to have well considered remarks. There have a been a few that have strayed from course, which I have tried to treat with equanimity. But so far I have been lucky. No “Dude, this sucks!” ridiculousness yet. No flame either. No endless columns of comments filled with internet irateness? I’m pretty sure that’s mostly because I’m such a small fry that I haven’t attracted the trolls and anonymous ranters yet. But they are out there. And if they thought it mattered they would congest the site. Not that I would actually let them do it mind you. I’m not interested in the numbers of comments, but I am interested in the quality. And the more quality comments on point the merrier. So don’t feel shy. And certainly don’t feel like you can’t comment on the older posts as well.

One word I rarely use to describe what I’m doing is ‘blogging’. Why? Isn’t this a ‘blog’? I suppose you could call it that and I wouldn’t correct you. But in my mind these are essays, pure and simple. They happen to be on a computer. When I visit blogs, I tend to notice that often people just seem to be using the concept as a sort of modified extension of a journal. Fortunately the social networking sites seem to have taken up the slack on the day to day stuff. “Whoopee it’s snowing!” Click Like please. “Eating an awesome ham sandwich with German mustard!” Like. “Lost my wallet today.” Am I supposed to Like this? Whereas blogging is a bit longer and a bit more like a public journal. At best one gets insights into something the writer feels strongly about or an interesting observation. But then again it can be a random series of obsessive details or personal thoughts that really didn’t need to be shared.

This happened when MySpace first started gaining popularity. The diary, which fulfills a real need for private reflection, moves online to become shared with friends and passersby. But what happens when the private begins to disappear? Facebook has really refined this. Now we are swamped in the rather superficial lives of our friends. Mark Zuckerberg has gone on record as having a real antipathy towards privacy on many occasions. And while Facebook is quite (too?) useful, it has also changed its users to live more along the lines of Zuckerberg’s predilections. I’m determined not to live in that world. The world is still filled with mystery. It still takes time to know.

However I am most evidently in the minority. A majority people I know, and if you are reading this you can ponder your own complicity, seem satisfied with the headlines and captions that make up our contemporary existence. I can follow what is happening in the Occupy Wall Street world as people pass videos and articles around. Like. It doesn’t occur to folks that propaganda is happening. They seem to be in control. Like! No one wants a Big Brother providing all of our information. But few notice that we are now infused not by massive singular force, but by a blinding multiplicity of little brothers and sisters. Our communication has become more insectoid, brushing our antennae in short bursts and bytes. Like…

There is a moment in George Romero’s zombie apocalypse film from 2008, Diary of the Dead, when a character muses on the meaning of communication and news once we have killed off the mainstream Big Brother. What is left is the endless blogs and various other means of antennae brushing. But then what is left is ultimately noise. (See the quote above.) It’s a chilling reflection made by the man who essentially invented the modern concept of the zombie that seems to reach out to us wherever we turn these days. All of the blogs and postings turn out to clutter the choices rather than inform them. Romero is saying essentially saying. Television was bad. But this is worse.

Salmon Heads as Anadromous Puppetry .... Photo ©Byrne Power

And so I am thrown back like a salmon against the current. What is the point of adding to the noise? Well I have to remind myself of a few principles: One: I am not writing the daily noise down. Period. Two: It is worth communicating with individuals. It is worth creating. Good conversation still has value. Three: I’m not going to write short and sweet. Each piece takes what it takes. As I stated in my first couple of essays, I’m fighting against the stream by writing with as much truthful observation and content as possible. While I might from time to time write about food, I really don’t care if anyone knows what I ate today. Four: The point of these essays is to ultimately get published in a real world book, not to remain online, This site will indeed someday be shut down. Five: Endless minute communications from ourselves, AKA Little Sisters and Brothers, will be as damaging as that from any larger entity, it will be more insidious and make us laugh more.  I care that a few people actually understand what I am trying to say, rather than have hundreds ‘Like’© me.

Meanwhile I will make my attempt to live and write The Anadromous Life for a while longer online and swim against the stream. I encourage whomever is reading this to find a way to fight your way against the stream too. My real goal: To point away from the virtual toward the real and the true.

Byrne Power

Haines, Alaska

November 8th 2011

……….

Here are a few links to the earliest essays on this site:

Welcome to the Anadrome

https://theanadromist.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/welcome-to-the-anadrome/

Rules of Engagement

https://theanadromist.wordpress.com/2010/11/22/rules-of-engagement/

Looking for the New Samizdat

https://theanadromist.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/looking-for-the-new-samizdat/

Faux Pas

https://theanadromist.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/faux-pas/


Dark Cloud Coming

My head’s been in a cloud lately. I don’t mean I’ve been distracted by airy dreams. Rather I’ve been pondering the growing cloud of digital information that seems to be drifting into view across the peaks of technological development: What we all soon will be calling “The Cloud”.

The Cloud is Forming on the Horizon

The concept of the Cloud has been morphing into existence ever since binary information could be transferred through a telegraph pole. And now since so much of our world has been translated into code and stored on servers we find ourselves getting closer to a decisive point in… well I was going to write ‘human development’, but that is definitely the wrong idea. Progress? Nay. Evolution? Hardly. Extinction? Too dramatic, but perhaps actually closer to the truth.

What is The Cloud? Let me give you my brief non-techie explanation. The Cloud is the aggregate of servers that contain the repository of information that is circulated digitally. It could be something only contained within local computers or data parsed and stored in a variety of public or private servers. In short it is where our digital info is stored as opposed to the Internet, which is a way to access the Cloud. Now I’m no specialist in these fields so please don’t try to nail me down to an exact definition here. I’m fully aware that there are much more precise definitions. You can find them on the Cloud… and that IS the point.

But here is what I do know something about: the raw data that is being transferred into the Cloud for safekeeping and pecuniary interest – music, film, books, photographs, audio recordings, news and anything else that can be translated into digital bytes. Now of course this is all old news to you I’m sure. It shouldn’t come as a shock to you that CD’s are giving way to downloads or that newspapers are having troubles surviving.

But let me give you a scattering of various factoids related to this digitization of reality. Did you know that in Spain they hardly make DVD’s anymore because most people just download mostly bootlegged copies of movies? Or the fact that the promotional wings of many American music distributors are in the process of whittling their physical CD’s down as they try, desperately, to get their music heard on radio stations. Instead of receiving an album a radio station now is often sent an email with a link and then told that they have received the music.

Or how about this question: What is going to happen to public libraries the more we devote ourselves to downloading virtual literature? There are a host of strange issues here. If the library lets you download a book is it yours? The answer so far is no. Or consider the strange things happening in the competition to develop better digital readers. So you connect your computer to the Cloud to receive your digital copy of a book. Now you’ve bought this book outright. But what if the company has made an erratum that needs to be fixed. Well guess what? The next time you plug in to your source to get another book it’s very possible they may “fix” your book for you. And here is where the darkness of the Cloud really starts forming.

Now if someone walked into my house, uninvited, to correct the errors, or worse the legal problems, in one of the books on my shelves, especially a representative of the company that sold it to me, I’d be pretty salty about it. But people don’t seem to realize that when things like this happen digitally it’s the same thing. And that it because nobody looks at all this digital tackle like it represents anything in particular. It is after all just zeros and ones, dots and dashes. And as we transfer more of our creative life to the binary we surrender to a strange record and erase mentality. We have a pad or pod or lapdog and we fill it with virtual baubles until we get full. Then we all erase to make more room. And no matter how much memory we have we will always fill it up with bigger and bigger files. And that is why the Cloud is coming into a prominence. Rather than keep all of your digital gunk on your simultaneously shrinking and expanding computers why not just keep it in the Cloud until you need it?

Well there are quite a few reasons actually. But let me put my cards on the table before I give them to you. Anyone who has walked into my house knows that I possess a rather formidable library of books, records, and movies. Without blowing my own horn I will state this: when I moved up to Alaska the contents of my container weighed over 11,000 pounds (5,000 kilos). Most of that was my library. And yes that nails me down to a very specific geographic spot. So if you want to talk about the curse of material possessions I’m guessing that unless you own a collection of marble statues I’m in a better position than most of my readers to reflect on the obstinate nature of matter and it’s temptations.

As I was moving from New York City one of my good friends told me to sell it all and just find it again online. I didn’t follow his advice and gladly. First of all, a lot of this stuff is nowhere to be found. Secondly, as the Cloud grows above us my private library is mutating from being a collection of hard copies to a collection of material originals. And most importantly what is on my shelves is not subject to revision against my will. It will remain politically incorrect, dangerous and tactile. The books will smell from age. The records will develope scratches. The CD’s and DVD’s will scuff and need polishing. This knowledge will remain in time not reconfigured in the Cloud for future consumption patterns.

But I know what people already think. If you don’t own so much crap you can be more mobile, you can travel more, you can make friends around the globe and go visit them. In a weird way it can be argued that the new resident of the global scene in more like Saint Francis who gave up his material possessions and lived in simplicity to spread the gospel. Well no one I know who has divested themselves to live globally (and I do know several of these types) is living simply. And what is the point of visiting people around the globe who live as cut off from their geography as you do. Because ultimately that is what this is all about. All of our cellphones, GPS systems, laptops, iPads, portable music machines, social networks are scything us off at the legs from our geographical relationship to the soil. Ironically so many people pay lip service to the environment while in the exact same instant that they are severing their connection to the actual rocks and trees and real human beings that make up this messy life.

And finally for me the real problem with the Cloud is this: that by consigning our knowledge and art to the virtual void we hasten the New Dark Age. This is too serious a discussion to follow right this moment. Essentially we are leaving our knowledge in a repository that is actively being studied for its weak links in order to be destroyed. As recent events in this moment of history have revealed clearly: If you think the unthinkable can’t happen you are clearly not living in this world. If you think that the Internet will never be taken down… Or that the Cloud will always preserve your memories… Well I hope you are prepared for the storm. Live real.

Byrne Power
Haines, Alaska
4/5/11