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November 1, 2023Whenever national governments or international organisations decide to inflict mass migration upon a country without consulting its population, progressives feel the unstoppable urge to defend the elites while simultaneously denigrating the hoi polloi. I will not bore the reader with the motivated reasoning of the social media influencer proving that borderless countries are great, that mass migration is an economic net positive or a basic human right or that even if it’s none of the above, it is inevitable and those who oppose it are despicable and thus fully deserve it. I will focus, instead, on a little status that goes viral whenever such post factum debates occur. The status goes along the lines of ‘actually, humans don’t have roots. They have feet.’ I remember a liberal philosophy professor posting this on facebook a few years ago, signalling his support for the regime and feeling good about it (which, according to Yarvin, is the definition of woke). The phrase was originally coined by Rachel Wolchin and sounded slightly differently: “If we were meant to stay in one place, we would have roots instead of feet.” Rachel is an author and an influencer; her Instagram posts seem to consist of motivational texts and selfies in bathing suits. I haven’t read any of her books, though judging from her Instagram, the main theme seems to be manifesting power through positive thinking and all that jazz. ‘Don’t shrink yourself for people. Don’t shrink yourself for anything. You’re a wildflower. You’re an ocean. You are you, regardless of them‘ – Rachel Wolchin. Punishing the chuds I don’t think the philosophy professor finds this pop-psych stuff particularly appealing. His post was motivated by something else entirely – a visceral reaction against ‘populism’.‘Roots’ are a metaphor for belonging. Lower classes value being at home in the world; the place of one’s birth, the hometown or the homeland – these things are precious to them. When the educated midwit claims that, actually, humans have feet instead of roots, he satirises this ordinary nostalgia of the great unwashed. ‘Longing for one’s roots’ is exposed as cheap, irrational sentimentality. Humans have always been ‘on the move’, he argues; some peoples even evolved for a nomadic lifestyle, there have always been great mass migrations, so ours is completely natural. Furthermore, in a society of mass transport and mass communication, it is inevitable that people would adapt to a technologically-augmented nomadism, exploring new forms of parasocial inter-relationality and exerting their human right to free movement. All this is implied in that smug little status. Metaphors and knowledge The educated midwit is, of course, more deluded than the ‘populist’ he despises. We know that humans don’t have ‘actual’ roots. The term is a metaphor meant to signify something deeper. Metaphors are not only employed for sentimental nonsense. They are an indispensable part of knowledge. As Iain McGilchrist pointed out, we cannot know anything other than by analogy. Certain things have certain features in common, so they are kind of the same in those respects. When scientists say that natural phenomena follow or obey laws, they are employing a judicial metaphor. When neuroscientists argue that the brain is a decision-making device, they are employing a mechanical metaphor. Without metaphors, nothing is intelligible, because no thing can be likened to any other thing. On the other hand, McGilchrist is quick to point out that similarities between things are limited, and common sense is essential in discerning when an analogy has reached its limit. And it is precisely this common sense that the midwit lacks. To quote S. Morello, “the slightly educated person understands little besides his ideas about the reality that he does not well understand. He does not return from those ideas back to the reality of which they are abstractions, abstractions to which he anxiously and unsuccessfully seeks to conform the world.” The midwit so obstinately clings to his exhaustive analogies, models and procedures, that he refuses to encounter reality in a contemplative way which would require him to perceive things or persons in all their uniqueness, as a “you” instead of an “it” (Martin Buber). And this exercise alone would allow the brain hemispheres to communicate and balance each other – Iain’s definition of common sense. Your brain does not process information and it is not a computer The liberal midwit notices that equating the human brain with a mechanism has some explanatory power and that it can be technologically useful; this leads him to believe that the brain and the machine are things of the same kind. Cristian Presură can, thus, claim, that there is no difference between a child and a laptop, both being ultimately conglomerates of atoms. If that were true, his own thoughts and opinions would be equally worthless, as mere sounds made by atoms emerging from chaos, on their way to biomass. If our minds are capable of real thought and insight, they cannot be of the same kind as a laptop. But this realisation requires common sense, which the midwit lacks. This delusion can be traced back to the Enlightenment, when one of the earliest French materialists, Julien Offray de La Mettrie took it to its absolute final extrapolation. His most famous works argue that 1) we are just machines, 2) acknowledging this makes us rational, 3) you can demonstrate this by being cynical about your entire civilisation and then denigrating it, and 4) given all that, the best thing you can do with your life is pursue ephemeral pleasures and then die. Now even if we are sceptical about man’s ability to gain real knowledge or to encounter something real ‘out there’, observation tells us that living organisms and machines are of fundamentally different kinds. Living organisms are always in flux, always replacing dead cells with new cells, always interacting and adjusting to the ecosystem, changing and self-regulating to remain the same – growing, developing to full maturity, reproducing, aging and dying. Imbalances and illnesses are countered by a self-organising immune system that pushes for homeostasis. Machines are artefacts designed by humans to be useful for a certain purpose; they do not exist outside of that conferred instrumental value; when a chair breaks, it ceases being ‘a chair’. Machines do not inherit any of the attributes of living organisms. They can be engineered to simulate human interaction, thinking, choice-making, even the flow and self-regulation characteristic to life. But this does not make them ‘transcend’ into a different kind, just as drawing ever smaller tangents to a circle will never result in a perfect circle. I know this sounds ridiculous to those raised on Star Trek and SG1, but our brains do not ‘process information’ and they are not computers, just as they aren’t hydraulic engines, automata or telegraphs. To quote from an essay on aeon.co: The invention of hydraulic engineering in the 3rd century BCE led to the popularity of a hydraulic model of human intelligence, the idea that the flow of different fluids in the body – the ‘humours’ – accounted for both our physical and mental functioning. By the 1500s, automata powered by springs and gears had been devised, eventually inspiring leading thinkers such as René Descartes to assert that humans are complex machines. In the 1600s, Thomas Hobbes suggested that thinking arose from small mechanical motions in the brain. In the mid-1800s, the German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz compared the brain to a telegraph. Predictably, just a few years after the dawn of computer technology in the 1940s, the brain was said to operate like a computer, with the role of physical hardware played by the brain itself and our thoughts serving as software. The people listed in this essay were not even midwits; most were geniuses. Yet they all exhibited the same tunnel vision that drove them to take their analogies too far and cause a lot of harm in the process. Eternal self-own of the liberal mind Going back to square one. Liberal professor feels the urge to dunk on populists and reactionaries. He writes an acid status on facebook: ‘Actually, humans don’t have roots. They have feet.’ What is he making fun of? The fact that right wing people use metaphors in order to convey meaning? We have seen how the liberal midwit employs metaphors in everything he says. He uses them in excess, even when they are way past their expiration date. He confuses the Cosmos with a machine (though for some strange reason he mocks Creationists when they do the same, more rigorously than himself); he is so caught up in this metaphor that he will attempt to conform the world to it rather than snap out of its spell. “Machines have less problems. I’d like to be a machine. Don’t you?” – Andy Warhol.“A house is a machine for living in.” – Le Corbusier“Swallowable robotic pills will dispense anti-depressants according to wirelessly broadcast schedules, helping workers receive medicine when they are under the most stress. Human ingenuity truly boundless!” Steven Pinker The cringe goes deep, and the harm caused by these madmen even deeper. Now that we established that everyone uses metaphors to convey truth and that the liberal abuses them more than anyone else, what remains of his criticisms against the chuds? The fact that they prefer the organic ‘tree root’ to the artificial machinery? If you truly fucking love science, you should admit they are more on the money with their metaphor, since trees are living organisms, like humans. “Roots” signify a web of relations developed over time between the people of a household, between multiple households; guilds, parishes, localities and homelands. The inter-generational dynamics, the interactions and attachments with the built environment, its landmarks and monuments. The richer these things are, the deeper the moral capital; the higher the trust and the better things are maintained. To quote Chesterton: “Let us suppose we are confronted with a desperate thing– say Pimlico . It is not enough for a man to disapprove of Pimlico: in that case he will merely cut his throat or move to Chelsea. Nor, certainly, is it enough for a man to approve of Pimlico: for then it will remain Pimlico, which would be awful. The only way out of it seems to be for somebody to love Pimlico: to love it with a transcendental tie and without any earthly reason. If there arose a man who loved Pimlico, then Pimlico would rise into ivory towers and golden pinnacles; Pimlico would attire herself as a woman does when she is loved. For decoration is not given to hide horrible things: but to decorate things already adorable. A mother does not give her child a blue bow because he is so ugly without it. A lover does not give a girl a necklace to hide her neck. If men loved Pimlico as mothers love children, arbitrarily, because it is THEIRS, Pimlico in a year or two might be fairer than Florence. This is the actual history of mankind. This, as a fact, is how cities did grow great. Go back to the darkest roots of civilization and you will find them knotted round some sacred stone or encircling some sacred well. People first paid honour to a spot and afterwards gained glory for it. Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her” – Chesterton, Orthodoxy In their desire to punish the chuds, liberal intellectuals are forcing them to adopt one of the two disastrous routes Chesterton lists above: to flee their homelands in search of greener pastures, or to stay and witness their countries crumble under the twin forces of negative birth rates (caused by the adoption of the same liberal values) and endless mass migration. You vill live in squalid Pimlico and you vill be happy! The other talking points I listed in the beginning (humans have a right to free movement, people are in fact nomads, we must invent a new type of belonging without settling) are self-refuting and are part of the same attempt to force humanity follow the logic of the machine. You cannot have borderless states and environmentalism at the same time; flourishing takes time and commitment, and no technological surrogate will absolve us of the duties to our own Pimlicos. [...]
October 28, 2023Being preoccupied with fashion, always aiming to keep up with its ever shifting trends, used to be regarded as a frivolous attitude; “the thrill of seeking out delight” (Gerald Gould), a self-indulgent, vainglorious tendency of people who care too much about status and approval. The thrilling side of novelty ensures there’s a hideous aspect to it as well. In order to grip your attention, it has to shock you in some way. In order to shock you, it must be irreverent and transgressive of some aesthetic norm (good proportions are familiar and familiarity is the enemy of the ‘brand new’) , while at the same time satiating some burning desire; think of the grotesque botox lips, the bum lift, tight licra or the flared pants and hair styles of the 60s and 70s. Like porn or junk food, as soon as fashion satiates the primary urge that made it appealing, it becomes disgusting. After it’s become ‘dated’ and ‘out of fashion’, almost everyone can clearly see its ugly aspects (something which myself, as off-modern, could see from the beginning). Boomers, unlike younger socialites, seem to regard fashion with superstitious piety. They follow the social disruptions brought about by tech trends or political activism with fervour and devotion. Installing the new update that just dropped is not frivolous and superficial, nor is it regarded as a self-interested attempt to stay relevant and gain clout. It is the new epiphany of the god of the Future; the providential message from beyond which we must internalise in order to discern the language of Progress. If the new ‘current thing’ is distasteful or even comically absurd, this sacramental attitude prevents the boomers from realising it. The myth of progress seems to inhibit the brain area responsible for aesthetic judgment. Boomers are clumsy with tech; there is always a distance between themselves and the tech gadgets they interact with. It seems that this very distance contributes to the sacramental attitude I described above. Not really knowing how a thing works allows them to romanticise it. I don’t mean to be offensive. As the tools of our current technocracy continue to shapeshift, we will all become ‘boomers’ eventually; with AI maybe sooner than anticipated. The Boomer clumsiness is deeper than a mere lack of know how. Yes, it might have taken them longer to become comfortable with the mouse and keyboard, or to be able to quickly navigate Windows and Internet Browsers. But eventually they overcame the initial obstacles; and there were, of course, those who had been proficient computer users since their youth. The Boomer clumsiness with tech is spiritual. They can fully understand how a thing works, without getting what that thing is; the patterns of being it generates; the types of interactions it tends to encourage. Its symbolic shape, so to speak. Take Facebook, for instance. Everyone realises that what this thing is differs from its interface. The interface is the friendly persona – allowing people to connect with family, birthday reminders, cosy, wholesome interactions etc. The true nature of Facebook is invisible, but we all feel it. And even though it’s hard to fully name the egregore, in 2024 we can at least agree in hindsight that Facebook is completely different from what it pretended to be and what we thought it was in 2010. You do not need a complex grasp of power politics or some all-encompassing theory to understand a normie-tier documentary like ‘The Social Dilemma’. “Things are not what they seem, kids. Facebook is selling your info to third parties, it is not a friendly place – in fact, the algorithm is antagonising, polarising and manipulating people.” And I don’t even have to invoke its CIA origins to understand this reality. This thing which collects your freely given personal info is something other than the cosy persona it puts forward. You can explain it as intentional or as an unforeseen consequence; but you must know by now that Facebook is an abomination, that you need not treat it as some serious forum of intellectual debate or some neutral news platform. Least of all a cosy family space. And if nothing else, you can at least notice that Fashion (which you devoutly revere) has already moved on and declared Facebook cringe and passé. Younger generations fry their brains on Instagram and TikTok nowadays. Yet none of this can shake the boomer’s benevolent, optimistic attitude towards an abominable thing like Facebook. This is the distance I cannot comprehend. He never seems to sense what the thing is and what it really does to people. He insists on projecting sacramental notions to it. We, other generations, sense the negative aspects to differing degrees; even if we are influencers or avid users, we tend to be disgusted with that side of ourselves; at least we see it for what it is – a cheap thrill facilitated by clever Pavlovian mechanisms which make it incredibly addictive. It also doesn’t help than no one dares to take the first step and put the phone in their pocket. But the Boomer insists on the Messianic role of the Zuckerborg. He insists it’s all ‘Progress’, all good, wholesome and edifying, as long as you CHOOSE to use it for GOOD. And you can clearly see that, just as every other age group, Boomers aren’t immune to the bad sides of tech. The perfidious gaslighting and manipulation affects them just as everyone else. The atomisation, the draining of attention, the shrinking of the ability to really think, the shrinking of one’s aesthetic taste – it’s all affecting them. I don’t have a proper ending for this; nor do I feel the urge to identify a deeper cause for the Boomer’s religious attitude towards tech. It is what it is. [...]
April 4, 2023Richmal Midllesworth (She/Her) is the head of HR at an established London-based architecture studio. Her modern approach to HR had her labelled as an HR Rebel. The following lines are a transcript of one of her recent vlogs. The names have been changed for privacy purposes. ‘Good morning everyone. So I’m just capping off a 10 mile run around the villages in Hertfordshire where I live. As you know, I’m raising funds and awareness for mental health, in particular men for the Winston Smith foundation. And what I thought I’d do today is I’d take a minute to talk to you about getting access to mental health support because – uhm – in my role and with some of my friends and family, I hear a lot of people say to me – well, I did try and go and get some help, but I felt that they didn’t really understand me or they made some comment that, really, I didn’t connect with; I didn’t feel validated. And what I want to say to you is that these things do happen. No one’s perfect and even professional people sometimes come across as off or might make a comment that really does cause some emotional harm. So all I can say to you is ‘just keep trying’. Not with that person, not with that entity. Go and find something else. Because getting mental health support is not one-size-fits-all, it’s one size fits one. So approach it with some curiosity and keep trying different things. Something else that springs to mind a lot as well that I hear about is that there’s such a massive delay for getting help by the NHS and via these services that are free to people, especially for young people that are struggling with their mental health, and the waiting list to get counselling and therapies is really long and that’s quite a worry for me, considering how many people really are now becoming more engaged with looking after their mental health. So the other day, my other half shared an email with me about a little app; it’s called Woebot and it is a cognitive behavioural therapy-based program in the form of artificial intelligence called Woebot. And I’ve been playing around with Woebot this week, I’ve been checking in, I’v’e been testing Woebot out and I can highly, highly recommend it. What I will do is I will put a link to Woebot on this video after I’ve posted it, but it’s got quite a cute nature, so it will put a smile on your face. I think that it’s accessible for young people, as well as adults, and I think that it’s something that you should be aware of and you should try it out. Partly what it does is it gives you tools, it will give you videos, it gives you ideas about mindfulness, how to practice gratitude, journaling, which is also very good for mental health, and it does give you some techniques if you’re in the middle of a crisis or a negative thought cycle, you open up the app, you check in and it’s available for you immediately. It finished its conversation with me last night to tell me it was off going fishing, so it does have a cute little personality as well, so I can highly recommend it. So that’s what I just wanted to say today, it’s just ‘stay curious, look after your mental health and if you do find you’ve hit an avenue where you don’t think you’re being validated or the person you’re talking to isn’t connecting with you, then it’s okay to end that and start looking for something different. So thank you for your time, I’ve got about a mile to go and then I’ll finish off my 10 miles. So I’ll post all this a bit later on, but just wanted to say ‘take care, everyone’. Thanks!’ . [...]