Monday, April 29, 2013

just show them your badge

There's nothing wrong, superficially, with the NYT headline "With Bags of Cash, C.I.A. Seeks Influence in Afghanistan" outside the headline writer's warranted expectation that the reader's association of a band of professional killers with "us, therefore good" is enough to offset the conclusion any intelligent, unindoctrinated adult would come to, that the C.I.A. has been engaging in some serious criminal activity.

Interesting too is the use of the present tense. It is not the case that the C.I.A. was seeking influence via bribery but was caught and is now dealing with the sort of repercussions criminals have to deal with when they're caught. The C.I.A. "seeks" influence with bags of cash, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Maybe they don't want to, maybe it's a bit dirty, but in the end it's for the greater good, regardless of actual outcomes because their intentions are good because they're us and we're the good guys in this drama. It would be wrong to want bad things to happen to good guys.

So what I'm getting at, I guess, is that the term "C.I.A." itself is a propaganda term containing all the necessary information to determine whether the attempted crime in question, described in the headline with unusual accuracy, is something that good people support or oppose. Replace "C.I.A." with "Al-Qaeda affiliate" and note the dramatic change in meaning.    

Sunday, April 28, 2013

normative and descriptive

Normativity ("ought" statements, as contrasted with descriptive "is" statements) is nothing more than an expression of desire with regard to a particular state of affairs, that one would like that state of affairs to be X as often as possible, as opposed to the W, Y, Z, and maybe imperfectly, inconsistently X, that it is. Normativity is a complaint. When spoken, the purpose is to externalize the impetus for action, with oneself as a starting point. Normativity means using ideas to make the world more to one's liking, however valid that liking may be. The self is always right.

Even those of us who warn against narrative use it. Anti-narrative is narrative. We just want to use it in a way that's not primarily self (or own-group) serving. We want to make the descriptive normative.

Descriptive statements happen when we don't care, or pretend not to.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

yes, well, i killed her but my conscious mind was free of contradictions so...

"Good intentions" means nothing more than a conscious self cleansed of contradiction. Self is the only part of world where "good" exists and necessarily remains good, or god, as long as it is. The most vile act, even when recognized as such, is consumed, incorporated by conscious self. Stalin was "what good is" in Stalin's brain. Anything else that was good in that brain (for example, obedient serfs) was leeching off of Stalin's self-perceived goodness. The self-loathing Christian is redeemed by his Christianity, even if he, the individual is not. Even the kamikaze pilot is redeemed by the greater self.

The phrase "good intentions" says little or nothing about those aspects of human brains that actually have us acting. Actions, on the other hand...

it was not the mouse but the thugs who put bostonians on their chairs

The people of Boston locked their doors, then remained frozen and helpless, perched high on kitchen chairs as gun-wielding toughs roamed the city and ransacked their homes in search of a little mouse, which was, finally, found and caged.

Bostonians were deemed, in the national psychosis, badass. They received good on ya's, don't mess with bostons, fuck yeahs. For being good little children. They were rewarded for their cowardice with head pats.

Other terrorists, they of the suits and uniforms, just killed a dozen children in somewhere-over-there-istan. No one is afraid of them. You can tell because they walk free, receive applause, respect. Or do they walk free and enjoy accolades because everyone is afraid of them?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

objects are dirty

I can see the appeal, but it's a pretty bad idea to try to resolve the subject-object dilemma by declaring everything object. Now you take what has been cast aside as other -- the object, already denigrated by an I-here-us system, a value system, as outside and therefore shitty -- as some kind of, ahem, objective truth, whatever the fuck that is.