Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Time and Politics 26: The Age of Divergence

Image Source: 8 tracks radio.

Last week, Michael Morgenstern intellectualized disinformation at The Chronicle of Higher Education: Dear Humanities Profs: We Are the Problem. Dismayed about American politics? Look in the mirror.

Morgenstern stated that postmodern theorists attacked the canon in the second half of the 20th century. According to these theorists, the western canon in arts and literature (and science) was a story of oppression, often intended, sometimes unconscious. This dominant account was written by Dead White Males. The period from the 1970s to 2010s was spent dismantling that canon, attacking power and privilege in the name of liberal civil rights and equality.

This approach extolled cultural relativism: there was no objective truth, no higher class of knowledge, no text, no vision of cultural superiority which could be offered as a mode of control (subtext: unless it was the new, divergent, relativist, postmodernist canon).

The Age of Divergence

Morgenstern has realized that this attack on cultural and intellectual convergence brought about our present circumstances. Postmodern literary critics had stated that every text was equal. Every text had its own 'civil rights.' Boomer intellectuals and their Gen X students recovered silenced voices, women writers, slave poets, indigenous histories, minority views. This was understandable and justified, because so many people had been mistreated and oppressed for decades, centuries, millennia. Without their voices, our histories were incomplete and our whole understanding of reality would be based on injustice and immorality.

However, this recovery of lost texts was also done in the name of undermining established experts and authorities. This was really a generational power struggle inside the academic profession, but it was dressed up in and justified with theory. Old tenured professors were unseated, early-retired, or pushed out. The aim was to supplant the older generation of intellectuals (viewed as 'the 1950s') with a radical new generation (defined as '1968'). But time has finally caught up with the 1968ers, who are now retired or retiring.

It's not as simple as this, but broadly speaking, this is Morgenstern's summary of how radical liberals attacked conservative authorities of the 1950s and built new intellectual value systems from the 1970s onward.

Morgenstern concluded that the liberals were successful. As a result, we now live in a world where no text is taken as true or accepted solely on the basis of the authority of its author or publisher. Unfortunately for this stratum of intellectuals, they now claim expertise, and by their own logic find themselves attacked, just as they once dismantled the institutional and cultural structures which came before them. Only one Chronicle reader, rebek13, pinned down Moregenstern's idea:
"I'm confused by other commenters who seem to have missed the main points I took from this, which were not so much about 'the canon' at all, which the author admits had exclusionary tendencies (though it need not).

What I see here is a critique of our abdication of the very idea of expertise, excellence, and beauty--literary studies serving as a prime example, but only that. We have in a postmodern haze suggested that tweets are just as good as texts, and that anyone's opinion on literature, philosophy, or history is really probably just as good as the expert who has spent years studying these fields. In doing so, we have made ourselves absolutely pointless and suggested the uselessness of our very fields.

Isn't it very odd that professors of literature have such poor defenses of the study of long, dense literary texts? Isn't it odd that many of my colleagues have turned to facebook comments and recipe books as objects of study (not scrutiny, ever, but study) as though these articles were just as precious as a novel? Why should students understand the value of a long text if we are saying 'everything is literature; nothing is any more worthwhile than anything else'?

It's funny. Colleagues with creative writing backgrounds seem to have a much more profound and certain appreciation of literature than those who spend their lives studying it. They would never suggest that a tweet could achieve the same things as a book. They are not that far gone.

The solution as I see it is not a return to canon as much as a return to the idea that some modes of thought and expression ARE better than others, and that experts are in a pretty good position to tell people how and why. Then we need to be those experts."
In short, due to the Internet, we are awash in oceans of information; and the very people who were supposed to decide what information was authoritative staked their own authority over the past fifty odd years on the deconstruction of privilege around information. This overhaul was supposed to offer new freedom for disempowered liberals in the old, conservative system. It was not supposed to spell freedom for disempowered conservatives in the new, liberal system.

Introduce a Little Anarchy

Jordan Peterson: The Queen's University Talk: The Rising Tide of Compelled Speech (11 March 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

The moment all HELL broke loose at Jordan Peterson's talk at Queens University (12 March 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Liberal advocates of 'no objective truth' are amazed now as they view free zones of information, where there is no objective truth. They would like to reimpose order on the madness. But their conservative detractors regard that response as a form of oppression.

On 5 March 2018, the bête noire of Canadian academe, Jordan Peterson, spoke at Queen's University on the topic, 'The Rising Tide of Compelled Speech.' His talk was disrupted by protesters who branded him a bigot and fascist. By defending classical liberal talking points, Peterson has inspired mass support on the Internet. He has certainly used the online mob as a cudgel to beat the liberal academy, politicians, and press.

Peterson would argue that the liberal academy is unwilling to consider any conservative or centrist perspectives and this has led to extremism on both sides of the political spectrum.

In November 2017, a teaching assistant, Lindsay Shepherd, was grilled by her superiors at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. This was because she showed a controversial video to her class and discussed Peterson's work.

Shepherd secretly taped the interview and leaked it to the Internet. At 28:30, you can hear her making the ironic remark to them: "If someone were attacking women." Her liberal professors, intent on imposing political correctness, missed her gibe. Liberals were the original advocates of women's liberation. But they now suppress women who disagree with them. Shepherd later received an apology from her university. She has used the media attention to become the current president of the Laurier Society for Open Inquiry.

The atmosphere in the universities is murky. Is Peterson's liberty actually anarchy? Are his opponents fascists - or is he?

US neo-Nazi leader and Gen Xer Richard Spencer has been holding creepy torchlit rallies in the South, reminiscent of Nazi rallies. This image was taken at a meeting on 7 October 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA. Image Source: Be Right There.

Meanwhile, there are real fascists on the march. In this case, the political terms of debates are less important than the way they are being posed. Ideas are born from action: therein lies political evolution. There is more violence, censorship, wild trolling, historically provocative symbols, ferocious language, and Internet mob populism in alt-right, neo-Nazi, and Blue Wave leftist varieties.

The Anarchic Collapse of the Right

60 Minutes Overtime - Parscale (10 October 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

On 16 April 2018, new right troll journalist (and Gen Xer) Mike Cernovich declared that the authority of the mainstream media is dead; the MSM are, he said (to coin a term), purveyors of 'fiat facts.' Cernovich stands as an anti-corruption advocate. But he also loves the chaos. When there are no central experts anymore and there is no convergence, Cernovich and his comrades dominate the playground.

Observe the tactics potentially developed by the Digital Media Director of Donald Trump's electoral campaigns, Brad Parscale. Another Gen Xer, Parscale has stayed out of the spotlight, but he is a force to be reckoned with. In a 60 Minutes interview, CBS dubbed Parscale the 'wizard behind the curtain.'

I am speculating, but it is possible that Parscale is the mastermind behind 'Q Anon,' the Trump leaker who has captivated the attention of the Internet Underground since last October. Q is like a character out of a Tom Clancy novel.

This past week revealed that Parscale may be orchestrating a grand disinformation opera. This Dark Web narrative is much more captivating than NYT's 2016 post-mortemsCNN's Trump-versus-Comey, and BBC's Beyond 100 Days. Beyond 100 Days? Yawn, so boring.

Last week, two sub-narratives boiled up from the alt-Web to counter the MSM news cycle about Donald Trump and the Russians. They involved a Xanadu in the jungle and a whisper campaign about Hillary Clinton.

CDAN screenshot source: Neon Revolt.

It started at the blog of a Hollywood lawyer, who for years has been leaking blind items about the entertainment industry at the site, Crazy Days and Nights. On 18 April 2018CDAN posted a blind item about a pleasure palace hacked out of the jungle, a place where world élites retreat to take drugs and indulge degenerate sexual practices.

Internet trolls decided that CDAN was referring to Kings Romans Casino, Laos. A centre of drug, human, and wildlife trafficking, it is also a pit of child prostitution. It is said that people there dine on tiger steaks and the meat of other endangered animals. Chinese developers were building an international airport nearby, so that exclusive guests could come and go without concern. But last November, they suddenly abandoned their project. The Trump administration slapped sanctions on the casino in January 2018. And if you think about it, Trump knows his casinos.

Welcome to the jungle: Kings Romans Casino, Laos. Image Source: Sebastian Strangio.

Trolls married this tale to Q Anon's leaks from November 2017, when Q began speaking of people, covered with gold. This seemed to connect to a real news story (read it here) about "infant corpses ... being offered to wealthy clients via a black magic services website." In 2012, Thai police stopped a British citizen in Bangkok, who was carrying roasted human foetuses, layered with gold leaf. Q even quoted Tom Clancy: this was the sum of all fears.

Q Anon Screenshot Source: Neon Revolt. These Q posts are archived from 4chan and 8chan here.

Although partly grounded in real events, it sounds like a story from a movie, video game, or a comic book. The narrative sensibility of the Q drops is very much that of Generation X. The attitude blurs the real and the virtual. This is a story brought to you by shadowy unknown underdogs, who draw initiates in to investigate real world mysteries as a form of collective empowerment. On 17 March 2018, Q declared of establishment leaders:
From 13 April 2018 (Friday the 13th) onward, a 'fake' Q drop spread a horrific whisper campaign about Hillary Clinton and her aide, Huma Abedin. Clinton has repeatedly asserted that she is a victim of misogyny. For all her corruption, she has a point in this case! This whisper campaign has all the marks of the Salem witch trials. It sounds just like early modern witch-accusations, which were an elaborate, delusional excuse to intimidate, murder and silence intelligent or unconventional women.

What is this month's version of that insanity? Piggy-backing on the 7 April 2018 arrest of Canadian humanitarian Peter Dalglish in Nepal, and a 15 April article on fake news site, Yournewswire, Youtubers and bloggers began claiming that the NYPD has terrifying evidence about Hillary Clinton from Anthony Weiner's laptop. Conspiracy theorists had already been discussing this material for ages under the social media hashtag, #releasethetape.

Then Sean Adl-Tabatabai's Yournewswire launched rumours of a leak; purportedly this was a snuff video of Clinton and Abedin (in some versions of the rumour, it was Abedin only) murdering and raping a girl and flaying off the child's face in a demented Satanic ritual(!). All this, so that they could harvest adrenochrome. Moreover, the location of this supposed murder was the infamous pizza parlour in Washington, DC, the centre of the Pizzagate/Pedogate disinformation scandal.

Rumour sites claimed that the video had been leaked to the Dark Web under the title, Frazzled.rip. The rumour cleverly asserted that it is illegal to download or share the snuff film, and that's why no one has seen it.

Only fake images, stolen from the Instagram page of DC concert promoter, Sasha Lord, and a photo from the Website of an Indian restaurant in DC called the Hush Supper Club, seemed to provide any evidence of this ghostly witch video. The whisper campaign even coined a new term for Clinton and other élites: 'pedovore.'

Image Source: Hush Supper Club.

The central message in these stories is that the élites are so corrupt that they are inhuman; they are the Monster Outside. The narrative enjoins its mainly-young-male, tech-literate followers not to look within and question themselves, but rather to expose their wealthy enemies and to attack them online in any way possible.

Régimes of Control: The Collapse of the Left

To return to the Chronicle piece mentioned at the beginning of this post, the author Michael Morgenstern was correct. This is the outcome when you democratize information and dismantle the authority of experts who are supposed to judge the truth of information. This is what happens when you remove the notion of a canon. I am not necessarily defending the canon, just agreeing with Morgenstern that this is what life is like without it. In the post-canon aftermath, every voice, text, and narrative is equally valid and has the same weight as any other. That is true cultural relativism. Is it any wonder that people like Parscale would survey the situation and take full advantage of it?

It is humanly impossible to control the chaos of millions of individuals who are nodes in an online social brain. The social media corporations are by inclination liberal entities and ought to support freedom of speech. Instead, to crack down on racism and hate speech, fake news and disinformation, they reimpose hierarchies of knowledge and authority over data.

More, as we see with the Facebook scandals, social media corporations sell personal data. The profits support a plan to redouble control over information, via the development of artificial intelligence. There are new régimes of AI-directed censorship, in which the machines decide what are acceptable opinions, and what are not.

If the right is collapsing into chaos, the left is collapsing into control. To follow another left-wing example, take the Yale Hallowe'en costume controversy, where radical students attacked Boomer professors for the latter's unwillingness to suppress offensive views. One professor who was involved in the controversy, Nicholas Christakis, still works at the university. His wife, Erika Christakis, was driven out of her job at Yale. These liberal professors had argued that freedom of expression should still be permitted in the university. The Christakises now support the Heterodox Academy: "A collaboration of professors working to advance viewpoint diversity in the academy." Meanwhile, Yale gave the student leaders who criticized and intimidated them Nakanishi Prizes for leadership.

There is a similar growing division between feminists and males who have become transgendered females. The feminists argue that the trans-shemales are males who are trying to seize hard-won ground from biologically-born women. In the feminists' eyes, this is the most insidious form of covert sexism and misogyny. In November 2017, The Economist reported:
"There is a tension between believing that it is possible to feel, act or look so much 'like a woman' that you should be acknowledged as one, and believing, as feminists do, that a woman can act in any way she wishes without casting doubt on her womanhood. A war of words has broken out between some transgender activists and women they call TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) about who should be let into women-only spaces, from domestic-violence refuges to women’s literary and sports competitions."
Thus, older radicals make way for new ones, who are far more ruthless. Liberalism is less and less about liberty and more and more about controlling what is considered to be 'free.'

The Collapse of Conventional Politics: A Spiritual Experience?

There is a final thread to consider. In the age of divergence, the contest is not so simple as progressive liberals pitted against regressive conservatives. It will become a contest between greater and lesser degrees of control and chaos, in which conventional political values are demolished. These attitudes are ways of being rather than ways of thinking. Both lean toward spiritualism.

In the case of transgenderism, I believe the debate about freedom and rights is misleading. You can read my comment on transgender campaigns, here. The transgender platform refines gnostic theories. At the core of that heresy lies the most radical tenet of all: the obliteration of dualism, the end of the war between males and females. This agenda deceptively uses secularism, humanism, and rationalism as banners. But it is anything but secular and rational. It is neo-religious and dedicated to building the superhuman.

In a way, that is not so different from the social media wizardry of Trump's rumour-lords. There is a growing awareness that the unreal can unseat the real; that immaterial belief is more powerful and more ungovernable than anything in the material realm. Memes give online chaos spiritual agency. Memes sanction say-anything tactics and vindicate the blame of others. On no account is this blame internalized. It is strictly a self-enforcing moral stance, aimed at the demons or monsters outside the self.

A lot of havoc can be wreaked when people think like that. You can tell them any story, and they will happily take up dramatic roles and live inside the tale. Imagine the terrible, exhilarating freedom of believing that the earth is flat, or that it is a hologram, or that the moon is a Death Star construct. There are no limits to what people will do when in a state of belief in the unbelievable.

ADDENDUM (23 April 2018): Watch Cernovich defending his pivot from politics and journalism to spiritualism, here.

ADDENDUM (4 February 2019): On 12 August 2018, the blog Crazy Days and Nights released information on the blind item from the previous April. The tip did indeed concern Kings Romans Casino:
Blind Items Revealed #4 - Mr. Hedge

April 18, 2018

About a decade ago, an international criminal ring sourced a great deal of money to fund an investment. This investment has paid off spectacularly for them.

They found a remote corner of an impoverished Asian country, and set up a destination where ultra-wealthy clients could indulge in all sorts of illegal evil. The owners provide all of these things for their clients. They even gave the government a piece of the action.

Child prostitutes, check. Drugs of any kind, check. Other 'goods', which are in specific demand in that part of the world, are openly available in relatively large quantities. Pictures have even popped up very recently.

As a side to all of this, the group also trafficks in endangered animals including bears, tigers and elephants.

International Criminal ring: The Zhao Wei crime network
Investment: Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone
Destination: 'Kings Romans Casino'
Endangered animals/'other goods' and harvested organs"
Of even greater interest is the speculation from 2012 about the identity of the 'entertainment lawyer' who writes the Hollywood whistle-blower blog. In light of remarks made over the years by the blogger and/or one of his commenters who went by the handle 'Himmm,' online followers have concluded that the source of major leaks on the site may be actor Robert Downey Jr. But he denied this in 2012.

See all my posts on Time and Politics.

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