Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Fortress of Ignorance

The proudly incurious throughout history
Stand in opposition to the experts of the age
The manifold flavors of their ignorance
Counterpoints to the textures of knowledge

Forget the hedgehogs and the foxes, they'll say,
Can't you see? We are forging our own reality
Never mind the hubris, the paradox of the day:
Their tribe often seem to be in ascendancy

That the lack of shame opens the way for the ignorant
   is the core insight
Where scoundrels prosper freely,
   the useful idiot has firm ground on their side
Observe well, the emperor's new clothes
   contra the evidence of your own eyes
Later narratives will rebrand those moments as frothy hysteria
   instead of common lies

And therein lies the dilemma,
   there is a tax to confronting the ignorant
A burden even beyond the avoidance of conflict
   that simian politeness demands
Humanity is not so far removed from ignorance,
   nay it's our default state
What more to be perceived as a killjoy stickler,
   most would rather shrink from debate

Badged with unshakeable convictions
   and certainties based on gut feel
It's a wonder to behold their impregnable armor,
   call it shameless steel
Mankind's sole weapons, volleys of ridicule
   and the attrition of experience
And deep focus to expose their folly:
   their Achilles heel is incompetence

urban decay

Knowledge may have its purposes, but guessing is always more fun than knowing.

— Archaeology by W.H. Auden

Soundtrack for this note

See also: A Taxonomy of Useful Idiots

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Writing log: November 7, 2021

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Speak, Memory

To walk around with your conquerors ever present, and in your face
Forever mindful that their whims are fickle and were previously unrestrained
The mask of civility, if not servility, renders you knowingly abject
For when survival is all, the imperative is to protect your neck

But life is not static, and these things have an eventual reckoning
The arc of justice, even if delayed, affects the event horizon
But in the interim we see
the mobs with their brand of injustice and pogroms
Purity tests and shibboleths, the taunts chanted, the blows bestowed with no qualms

Settler colonialism leaves its mark, the imprint might even be genetic
The bloodstains that resound from walking through crimson soaked streets
Shame will out, humans love storytelling too much to forgo living testimonies
Truth and reconciliation rendered even as inconvenient flesh. Speak, memory.

"The past is past. I've accepted it. I don't want to remember. It's just asking for trouble."

— survivor of the Snake River massacres in Indonesia interviewed in The Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer's documentary about the ghosts of the Indonesian slaughter of a million so-called communists.



Timing is everything
Observers are worried

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Writing log: May 15, 2021

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

The Physics of Shame

The half life of shame, experiments confirm,
   has been decreasing at an alarming rate
The exponential decay, in modern times,
   subject to the vagaries of fate
Blame changing mores, expedience,
   and a predisposition for fun
Descartes would never get to write
   "I'm ashamed, therefore I am"

Researchers who have studied the erosion of shame
   are mostly confounded by the facts
A few gremlins are said to possess the unerring ability
   to repel it on contact
In some quarters, the term of art, shame liquefaction,
   has even been advanced
The gene which confers a selective advantage
   is often found in politicians

The angels that shepherded humanity
   out of the garden of Eden still maintain
That they left a curious gift in their luggage,
   wrapped in decorative paper
Ostensibly impermeable this solid substance,
   it bore the label shame
A puzzle too, for when mankind touched it,
   it instantly changed their behavior

Alas, like most unrequited gifts
   it was doomed to be treated as a novelty product
Further, the owner's manual was missing,
   and the warning labels unexamined and unread
Like the Rubik's cube forlorn that second week of January
   at the back of the toy closet
Swiftly discarded, right next to the silly putty,
   observe well the ensuing misconduct

The substance, in practice, turned out to be quite malleable
   in human hands
Material scientists point to a barrier function
   affecting soul insurance
After the initial practicality was addressed by clothing,
   and a modicum of modesty observed
There was no further selection pressure,
   the survival imperative was all that mattered

Thus, in our early dealings in the torrid zone,
   some realized that it could evaporate
If not treated with care,
   the run on our communal supplies would accelerate
But it was seen as a victimless crime,
   there was no one really that one could blame
The corollary in the modern era:
   America's real herd immunity is to shame


Shame, a Playlist

A soundtrack for this research note. (spotify version)

Timing is everything
Observers are worried


See previously: Shell Games (Part I. Shame Cultures)

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Writing log. Concept: May 14, 2020. September 18, 2021

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Barter Trade

A cop doing detail at a distribution site
Gave her the tip about the extra vaccine doses
Solid, he was a regular at the main liquor store
The one near the old airport, a repeat customer
"He's a real fiend for good booze", she recounted,
Gleeful as she was about the stylish twist in fortune
Call it serendipity, if you'd like, this coup
That in those early months of constrained supply
When most went unprotected no matter how hard they tried
How she managed to trade a boutique bottle of whiskey
For her first jab of the Pfizer vaccine

They've been living their best lives during the pandemic
For, early on, liquor stores were branded as essential
The governor was adamant, the state was open for business
Thus, the flow of alcoholic beverages continued unabated
Heck, they were even expanding, even though it took a bit
At length, the state board issued the required permit
The new store would be opening soon in the posh part of town
An upgrade, no more gentrifying combat zones with their brand of chic

Not a mask in sight throughout all these months
It seemed as if the pandemic was irrelevant
Still, this was a departure, this vaccine development
A marked change from the early days of the lockdown
When we'd heard loud and clear over the fence
Right at the start of The Grand Reopening of Texas
The laughter and the assertion: "There is no virus"

teijin tetoron

This note is part of a series: In a covidious time.

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Writing log: October 24, 2021