By Chance Lunceford
“The unsaid is a powerful tool. It invites the reader into the narrative, filling in gaps, interpreting silences and half-finished sentences, and seeing the hidden fear in someone’s eye.” — Fiona Barton
“The narrative constructs the identity of the character, what can be called his or her narrative identity, in constructing that of the story told. It is the identity of the story that makes the identity of the character.” — Paul Ricoeur
“It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the—if he—if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not—that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement.” — William Jefferson Clinton
The shape of a thing is revealed not just by what is visible, but by what is not; void and vacuum twist and pull on substantial reality, and these forces coalesce into a very revealing portrait of influence. The lack of a thing is the eventual end to every thing. Tyrannical time flows, parting and passing around the most solid members of the resistance, until they too are dissolved and distributed back into the stream.
Yet they – these solid monuments standing in defiance of inevitability – demonstrate that time can be cast aside for a time by the mere presence of a will to survive, that this mortal frame can defy equilibrium and create a rippling wake as the fingerprint left by the effort.
In a long enough time-frame all iterations are ephemeral.
Still, as the architecture of society at large is surely partially intentional – to what degree is a subject of frequent debate amongst those who entertain such subjects in conversation (savages, snivelers and snakes, mostly) – so too, to an unclear but at least partial degree, many of our experiences as members of a society with a strong consumerist mentality are shaped to exist only momentarily, but to move our trajectory significantly in the short time that they exist.
Imagine a future heroin addict trying the first dose and realizing there is a whole other world of experience, and that they now know they’d prefer to live there in any condition rather than here in an objectively superior condition.
Then the high passes, irritability and the jonesing for more sets in, and the stark reality of that kind of pull on one’s self-control is too difficult for many to face, leading into a selective ignorance of the negative consequences of their newfound obsession in order that they can most fully enjoy their own path of destruction.
This is the character of very many ephemeral experiences designed to be both persuasive in a particular trajectory and addicting in their intensity or subtle pleasure both.
You might’ve heard of social media and clickbait (heh) and these are prime examples of how the drive for a continuous stream of impulse satisfaction can draw a great deal more energy from a limited pool than its use justifies – at least if one desires to use their time to create growth and increase in metrics associated with personal freedom – in the same way that someone who chooses to engage with tobacco often finds themselves at the behest of the impulse to engage in an increasingly common and less meaningful set of conditions. This continues along until the act itself becomes an event to plan around, rather than something to enjoy appropriately or even to accommodate during convenient moments, thereby losing touch with what value existed in the first place.
Clinging to broken justifications and lies of convenience constitutes a surefire path to a demented world view and an unreasonable attachment to ideas and practices – and aye, even people – which drive one ever deeper into the morass of responsibility denial and resentment.
This practice creates openings for weakness in honesty and respect in ripples emanating outwards from those who engage in such behaviors, suggesting a similar course of action to those around them.
The process in which the denial of reality becomes an ever increasingly lauded and prized characteristic of the participant in the societal process has been studied, templates and platforms created to support and insulate these skewed views from challenge or destruction until they metastasize throughout the entire psychology of both the individuals and the broader group dynamics. This functionally weakens the long-term viability of the people and institutions to which they are attached and enmeshed, while often creating a simultaneous increase in the volatility of the hosts.
Distortion of reality in service to creating conditions under which specific results in the world of politics, money and, ultimately, power over others has become an art.
Still… the artist says much more than they know or realize.
“People’s real hopes and dreams can be distorted and misdirected and packaged until you’re not sure what you really want or what you even really need.” — Tracy Chapman
“If even in science there is no a way of judging a theory but by assessing the number, faith and vocal energy of its supporters, then this must be even more so in the social sciences: truth lies in power.” — Imre Lakatos
“Bear in mind here that all Google search results are, in a sense, biased. There are no equal-time rules built into Google algorithm. It always puts one widget ahead of another – and one candidate ahead of another” — Dr. Robert Epstein
“Societies or companies that expect a glorious past to shield them from the forces of change driven by advancing technology will fail and fall. That applies as much to my own, the media industry, as to every other business on the planet.” — Rupert Murdoch
“I’ve never been impressed with bureaucratic tradition. I don’t like it when the parties come to me and say, ‘This is the way that it’s always done, judge.’ I never found anything in the oath I took or the statutes I was asked to look at that said, ‘Judge, stop thinking, because this is the way it was done before.’” — Jed S. Rakoff
“What can you say about a society that says that God is dead and Elvis is alive?” — Irv Kupcinet
The undeniable power of effective marketing is, or at least should be, quite obvious. After all, how much shit do you have sitting in your home right now that you don’t need, don’t use and – the thrill of novelty will only last for so long – don’t even particularly want?
If you’re anything like almost everyone else, then the sad truth is that most of your possessions likely fall into that category. In fact, I’d guess that the most frequently used possessions in your home and on your person are the ones that expose you to the sources from which you procure more unnecessary shit. I’d even wager that you’ve put yourself into debt and caused yourself undue stress by engaging in impulsive and unrestrained consumerism.
These belongings, however foolishly procured, are physical products which in many cases could be sold to recoup a portion of the original cost. You could also, if you were actually inclined, put the objects to use and extract value from their presence in your life and convert an expenditure into an investment. Yet, most people can’t even coax themselves into cooking a decent meal and picking up some weights on a consistent basis, much less then to make the time for developing new skills or engaging in new hobbies.
Their time is already spoken for.
Netflix, news, broadcast television, video games, social media, blogs, politics…consumption of media is the number one pastime for most folks in the modern world. How many scramble about during the day, only to plop down on their preferred reliever from vertical, then to spend the rest of the evening taking in their preferred sources of content? How many times have you seen the total trance-like enthrallment of a friend or family member and forced yourself to push away the involuntary shudder of watching someone’s descent into numb complacency while the programming slides right past their mental defenses to excite their subconscious mechanisms of desire and and goal-attainment?
With that in mind, I’d like you to consider the idea that media is the also the top-selling consumer good in the world. Consuming media is the unavoidable answer to the common refrain, “Where does the time go?” The time gets eaten up by our species-wide fascination with stories and the information symbolically encoded within them. Stories shape our very understanding of who we are and what our place is in the world, which in turn shapes our relationship with meaning and purpose.
“All media is narrative. And we are in a war of narratives.” — Mike Cernovich
“It’s actually pretty complex, because there’s two levels of reality in the narrative. One is what really took place, and the other is Spider’s poisoned version of what took place.” — Gabriel Byrne
“In a decaying society, art, if it is truthful, must also reflect decay. And unless it wants to break faith with its social function, art must show the world as changeable. And help to change it.” — Ernst Fischer
We define the collected events in our lives as story – a life story – and this is a critical point to understand about the people around you. We frame the understanding of our own lives through the lens of story, and we connect seemingly disparate events together into narrative strings. These strings anchor to nodes and patterns are born. From these webs we learn to extrapolate and begin to discover the prescient power of pattern recognition.
Yet, for every level of paradigmatic growth exist the ones already present in or beyond that level who arrived before you. Upon entering an awareness of a paradigm, one becomes increasingly aware of how to manipulate the variable to one’s advantage.
Why, in this context, is this important?
Because details can be manipulated to appear other than as they are, and every paradigm is populated with at least a portion of those who would obstruct the ascension of those below them. They wish to maintain the status quo, to achieve a permanent carving into stone the existing social and cultural stratosphere because they have reached the limits of their willingness to grow and hence the pinnacle of their ascent. Thus they design, with an advantage in knowledge of the battlefield, traps and snares to entangle the unwitting in a web of their demise.
There are also, quite thankfully indeed, those in each paradigm who would shepherd in the next wave of winners to give credence to the idea that a good relationship with one’s replacement is a surer foundation for ones own ascent; for some, honoring the binding between knowledge and duty is necessity.
For a narrative to find success in embedding and spreading through many minds it’s going to need to be put to the intended audience in a manner in alignment with their patterns of perception. A photograph is true, but contains only that which the photographer has pointed at and focused on. In order to be regarded as art, this direction and focus must be arranged in such a manner that it catches attention and transmits a message to the viewer in a compelling enough way that the viewer is inclined to spread the message or at least to alert others to the existence of the vector. So too, in the choice of focus and emphasis, must a narrative be framed.
The reasons for this are many, but most obviously, there are two:
– One cannot create a compelling story by spouting off a continuous string of chaotic details with no perceivable direction or meaningful connection. In the telling of a story, one must focus on the most relevant and powerful details and, inherent in the very nature of the process, to be most effective one must understand the underlying aim of telling the story in order to choose the details best suited to their intent.
– To control the frame is to direct the conversation by constricting the possible responses. If you put forward a narrative that takes hold of people’s attention and keeps it for a time, then the popular discourse must respond – usually without much nuance – to the propositions embedded in your story.
Early socialists and latter-day mercantilists and interventionist were united in the battle for state-controlled education as a means of social control. The uncontrolled mind was a dangerous mind. — Rousas John Rushdoony
“The history of education shows that every class which has sought to take power has prepared itself for power by an autonomous education. The first step in emancipating oneself from political and social slavery is that of freeing the mind. I put forward this new idea: popular schooling should be placed under the control of the great workers’ unions. The problem of education is the most important class problem.” — Antonio Gramsci
“My intention is not to replace one set of general rules by another such set: my intention is, rather, to convince the reader that all methodologies, even the most obvious ones, have their limits.” — Paul Feyerabend
Consider the phrase “fake news” and ask yourself a couple questions:
– What gives relevance to a frame in which such a term contains vast cultural momentum?
– What effect might the undermining of the frame cause in the mid-to-long term?
– What would control of this narrative framework look like, and, when you look at the world around you, who appears to embody those metrics to the greatest degree?
There’s an interesting phenomenon you may have noticed in your own life, and it’s quite revealing:
In dreams, many seemingly disconnected and random events takes place in a sequence – probably – but there are no solid constraints on time, place, scale, perspective, etc…
Yet, and this is the crux of it, our minds – even in the semi/subconscious world of dreams – attempt to make sense of these seemingly random events by placing them into a narrative, attempting to extract some sort of meaningful story from what, at least on the surface, seems like chaos.
Story, then, is the process by which human minds create order out of chaos. It is the superimposition of a blueprint of will over the sea of chaotic potential, requiring only energetic input in the proper sequence to create something from anything. It is the tool by which we both predict and create the future. It is order of operations, it is the process by which meaning is created, it is the direction in which existence travels.
Story = Meaning
“Facts don’t care about your feelings.” That’s what Ben Shapiro says, but I think he’s missed the mark. Perhaps the current facts don’t care about your feelings, and certainly the fundamental forces will not budge to your fleeting bouts of emotional output, but there is something deeper to consider.
The way that you feel about the world around you will determine the manner in which you think and act within it, and how you respond and react to the various influences within it. Human beings have a very powerful and seemingly unique skill for manipulating the world around them to suit their needs and desires.
Thus, when you feel a certain way, you think a certain way, you act a certain way, and the world around you is changed by your actions. So, when taking this process into account, the future of facts will care about your feelings because you’ll be shaping the world into something different from what it currently is with them.
As I said before, though I think it bears repeating, I’m not suggesting that there are no truths or bedrock foundations of existence, merely that the malleable parts of reality – and there are some – are very much shaped by the way that we, as shapers of reality, feel about them. This dichotomy is important to highlight, I think, because it very much defines the differences within one of the major cultural bifurcations putting scissors to the fabric of society.
There are things that can be manipulated, and the ability to manipulate them exists on a scale. To the extent that we manipulate these variables, we could be considered to be creating a culture, and this is a valid point which should be considered when attempting to understand both the nature and the nurture of a person. Fair enough?
But, and this is a big but, there are things which cannot be manipulated, or have very clearly defined boundaries that cannot be stepped out of, which should not be considered points of cultural creation or societal shift. They are foundational, bedrock, impregnable fortresses of existence, and when attempts to change these factors become the focus of a culture, then what you are witnessing is a sign of a culture veering towards suicide.
To aim yourself against the nature of existence is to aim yourself towards nonexistence.
Physics is a great example of this principle in practice, as demonstrated by the example of the man who hated gravity:
There once was a man who hated gravity.
He thought it quite unfair that he should be restricted to the ground when the birds and the bees were allowed to travel the skies, and this unfairness rankled.
One day, the man who hated gravity had decided enough was enough – he was going to defy gravity and take to the skies – so he stepped outside his door, raised his arms to the sky, commanded gravity to stand aside, and willed himself into the sky.
And there he stood for a time, until – with a dejected grunt – he lowered his hands and admitted he had lost the battle, but – he thought to himself – not the war.
A neighbor asked him what he was up to, and he commented that he had decided that he was going to defy gravity today, and take to the skies. She seemed impressed and that made him feel good. He told her that he had a plan, and to gather the town in the square.
He figured that perhaps what he needed was a bit of momentum behind his will, and that he needed some time in the air to get comfortable with the feeling, so he hiked up to a tall cliff face above the town.
As he looked out over the view from the cliffside he could see a gathering throng of people in the town below, far enough down to appear as no more than multicolored squirrels, and he hollered down to get their attention then waved to them. Many of them hollered and waved back, and this made him feel good; the people were behind him so how could he fail?
Riding on this feeling of validation he received from the folks in the town, he raised his arms to the sky and leapt. As he began to fall, he willed gravity to release its grip on him that he might take to the skies, and he did so with all his might.
Then he hit the ground with a wet thump and died, entrails and blood bursting variously from his wreck of a body.
One of those in attendance, standing in the town square with the true believers who had instantly appeared once the word got out that there was someone who thought something was unfair, shook his head at those who had doubted all along that the man would be able to defy gravity and said, “Yeah, that was a disaster, but that wasn’t REAL antigravity, it was corrupted and coopted by the bourgeoise. The same is true for you”
Then he went about planning to silence and hurt those who would dare to claim that gravity was anything but a cultural creation meant to keep the unlucky and disadvantaged down. Indeed, he thought, gravity as a concept ought best to be totally wiped out and erased from the education of the masses in order to ensure that gravity could never be resurrected and then all humans could take to the skies in equity and fairness forever.
He felt a twinge of discomfort with the idea of hurting people, for a moment, but then he remembered that these were the people who had murdered the man who wanted to defy gravity – not that there was any such thing as gravity – by chaining him to the ground with their doubts and cultural biases. They were murderers and tyrants who didn’t want all humanity to take to the skies, and so, he continued his plans remembering that he was planning the deaths of murderers in the name of the greater good.
“For the greater good,” he said to himself, “for the greater good.”
“There is no time and space limitation for public accountability on the Internet. Creative commonality is standard and does not resemble the authoritarian style of the dead communist experience. It seems that it is no longer society’s obligation to understand legislation; it is a duty for governments to be understood by their people.” — Eduardo Paes
“We have to give people dreams; we have to give people hope. In terms of government, in terms of society, that’s our goal. You can’t have a group of people that don’t dream, that see themselves as dead or in jail.” Courtney B. Vance
“There couldn’t be a society of people who didn’t dream. They’d be dead in two weeks.” — William S. Burroughs
“Given the opportunity, under the right conditions, two cells from wildly different sources, a yeast cell, say, and a chicken erythrocyte, will touch, fuse, and the two nuclei will then fuse as well, and the new hybrid cell will now divide into monstrous progeny. Naked cells, lacking self-respect, do not seem to have any sense of self.” — Lewis Thomas
“I write because I feel driven to write. I write from a sense of inner necessity. I don’t write for anything other than that.” — Will Self
“A lot of people thought the sense of self was hard-wired, but it’s not at all. It can be changed very quickly, and that’s very intriguing.” — Miguel Nicolelis
The best customer is the one who feels loyalty to your business. While loyalty has cognitive elements that stretch into the conscious realm by way of rational social intelligence, much of loyalty is felt in the gut and the balls. It’s a process of deeply instinctual emotional resonance, much as passion or fascination inhabit a realm with tendrils reaching into our conscious awareness yet which are rooted beneath the soil of experience in the bedrock of survival and genetics.
Habituation is a hollow emulation of loyalty, and has more to do with hormesis and homeostasis than it does with passion or commitment or honor.
The truth is that habit is far more common than loyalty, because loyalty requires commitment and principles as a measure of its very existence. Loyalty is the act of taking responsibility for any set of conditions that arise from making a commitment to something. Habit, on the other hand, is the process of becoming – and then staying – comfortable in your current paradigm by doing the same things repeatedly until they become unconscious baselines.
Both of these are powerful tools, and the wise one would put them both to use in their favor intentionally, but one of these is far more powerful than the other. You see, loyalty can only be given by those who have the mental freedom to make commitments and to adhere to them even through pain and discomfort. It’s a rare individual that possesses such characteristics, and seemingly getting rarer. Habits, however, are more numerous than people.
Habits are very useful, because once the action has been relegated to the subconscious it requires less mental energy – the brain uses a massively disproportionate amount of energy, by the by – making it a more efficient use of your time and effort. However, influence of habit shapes the very world we interact with.
Do you drive to and from work using the same route every day? Do you have a “morning routine” or a limited collection of meals that you eat for lunch? Do you watch TV every night, or drink 3 beers, or watch every football game of your favorite team?
Those are things that many of us do, but they restrict our field of interaction to a very specific and limited number of options. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because limiting avenues of action increases volume within said avenues, thereby amplifying intensity.
But, don’t you think it suspicious that those who attempt to guide your actions into habitual patterns have little to no concern for your long-term well-being? Don’t you find it distasteful, upon consideration, to know that the people creating advertisements, and content with constant advertisements and manipulations embedded within, know about these ideas and use them to shape your desires in such a way that you give them more money, more often, for a longer period of time?
You, knowing the same, could experiment around a little bit and leverage these same tools to your advantage. You could create a story surrounding your desires, and if you did it well enough you could build support for your vision. You could build habits in people, through clever use of symbolism and story inside a cocoon of content and engagement, and those habits could include giving money or resources to you in an exchange.
You could also, if your efforts were shaped at creating habits in others which served their own best interests and were put to use in service of their own vision, also build a following of people who were committed to one or more of your own principles in an honest and willing fashion. You could, if your intentions were to shepherd well the attention and willingness of those around you, create a movement behind your own grand vision built upon trust and commitment. If you did, you’d have crossed the divide from habit to loyalty.
Tribe is a massive amplifier, but I’ll approach that in a future post.
“Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values.” — Ayn Rand
“I have a loyalty that runs in my bloodstream, when I lock into someone or something, you can’t get me away from it because I commit that thoroughly. That’s in friendship, that’s a deal, that’s a commitment. Don’t give me paper – I can get the same lawyer who drew it up to break it. But if you shake my hand, that’s for life.” — Jerry Lewis
“It’s kind of like those little electric bumper cars where you drive around and see if you can hit the other guy. That’s exactly what the country is like now. You no longer have the sense of community. Of loyalty. It’s lost its sense of group. It has nothing to do with leadership.” — Paul Newman
“The Osage have this lovely phrase: ‘Travelers in the Mist.’ It was the term for part of an Osage clan that would take the lead whenever the tribe was venturing into unfamiliar realms. And, in a way, we are all travelers in the mist. The challenge is that, as writers, we sometimes want to ignore this murkiness, or we want to write around it.” — David Grann
“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
“I come from no country, from no city, no tribe. I am the son of the road… all tongues and all prayers belong to me. But I belong to none of them.” — Amin Maalouf
“I wish it to be remembered that I was the last man of my tribe to surrender my rifle.” — Sitting Bull