Accretion/Loss Management Syndrome [ +Lyrics Deconstruction Project #4 ]

Key Points:

  • Standing up to injustice and inequality is good, but contrary evidence exists to show how the confusing give-and-take of “fairness overreach” and false empowerment damages society
  • America is awash in a certain required form of post-modern cognitive dissonance and victimization, lacking any real depth in practical insight or forward direction
  • A self-reinforcing neo-social universality, a sordid affair rooted in the fear of reprisal and ostracism, has become ultra-personalized by extremists and purists
  • Lyrics Deconstruction Project #4: Lyrical companion content examines a PC knife fight in the zeitgeist (for background on the LDP series, see the first 4 paragraphs of LDP1).

[ all images by Beeple (unless noted otherwise) ]

Experimenting with a Partial Ban on Logic

The 2010s decade was unique in the way our technology got out ahead of us, and grafted itself to a potent political propaganda engine. It helped spread and amplify intense convictions of opposing viewpoints, a chronic condition not at all unique to the 21st century. Odds are good it’ll continue full-force in the 2020s.

Advanced media manipulation has led America to a loss of perspective, emotional instability, and cognitive impairment. It’s hard to admit that, with few exceptions, it was inevitable—we collectively took the good with the bad, building blind trust with its machinations. Now hard-coded to the grid and mainstream, it’s a big hit—but we’re left with fewer clever options for avoidance. All we can do is swim, filter these communications or strategically mute them at certain thresholds.

Rampant disinformation, blatantly partisan news sources and social media’s tidal wave of fake news is no basis on which to inform the American public. The worst victims of it may be said to exist in a regrettable state of moral dystopia. It crosses daunting boundaries in terms of orthodoxy, ideology and politics. Atmospherically a reversion to the mean—a cooperative moderation in thought—is blocked by ingrained beliefs, fear of embarrassment (goaded by an excess of idealism and/or narcissism), and other fears like confronting one’s own self-styled hypocrisies. The confabulation gravitates around those who would re-write the dictionary before conceding a point to anyone—a form of dull lunacy masquerading as toughness, and the incubator for our growing ranks of noble totalitarian wokescolds. Don’t forget to smile knowing nobody’s immune from their withering rebuke.

Before all of this digitally-enabled, media-saturated splitting, about 30 years ago there was a pre-internet form of cohesion, but only barely. Just as the old, looking back, idealize the past, so the young, looking forward, idealize the future. They rarely meet in the middle, and are frequently unrealistic.

Illusion is the stuff of memory—and is at the heart of hope. Hope is let loose into a cruel world: despite the marketing hype, idealistic dreams usually end up costing as much as regular stupidity. 

An overarching self preservation tactic is revealed but never spoken about—that most will give up an acre of freedom for a closet of security. Meanwhile, a refusal to face reality allows it to stab you in the back. With this meta-reality in mind, let’s cut to the heart of the topic:

Public attitudes to fairness are complex, and flawed, and full of recursive entanglements. We try to create equality of life’s chances, not literal equality, on a planet where practically nothing is free or equal except on paper or appearances. Unrealistic, logic-free attachments to “mandatory equality” have gained traction in this era, and opened a can of worms.

What we’re basically saying is we will no longer focus on the obvious differences in competition—we will try to achieve “equity.” We will call it justice. Let’s experiment with socialism and the kind of groupthink that is destructive to the welfare of a free and open society—it’s never worked before, but maybe this time we will get it right.

There’s an argument—one some would say is the key ingredient of an anti-egalitarian straw-man argument—that points to the impossibility and undesirability of equality. It is not anti-egalitarian to say that life’s toughest choices are still left for us to understand, in that the problem arises when we advocate for literal equality of outcome.

Taking a hint from the evolutionary process, the enduring stoic believes that the essence of life is the struggle for unequal outcomes. Similarly: Inequality is the bite of the apple—the original sin—both necessary and dreadful, at the heart of existence.

Thus, while there may be benefits from reducing inequality, equality itself is neither attainable nor desirable. Equality implies stasis—but the essence of life is change. When life is stilled, we give it another name.

Perhaps what we are witnessing is the dark side of an extraordinary self-loathing in many successful western democracies and republics, one which warps and attempts to destroy whatever previous version of meritocracy it was built upon. Although these democracies have had success in creating wealth, opportunities for self-fulfillment, and freedom for citizens—and made significant cultural and scientific achievements—the function of certain cultural attitudes and values simply lacks confidence. Judging their multicultural societies by the standard of “equality”—they find them wanting.

There’s now a sudden rush of books and podcasts designed to figure out why the world seems—so often—to have gone completely mad. An excess of idealism—with a particular focus on equality—seems to make the best sense. In this brave new world, the ultimate privilege would be to convert privileges into non-privileges at will. It says there ought to be a forcible way to level the playing field; meanwhile, it’s disingenuously craving, urging and vying to acquire power and money itself (a.k.a. “same old shit, different format”).

In this stilted world, any hint of hierarchy is anathema to the egalitarian impulse. That explains why “victims” are assumed to have a compensating moral virtue—a “heightened moral knowledge” over the dominant group—and why success is so often assumed to bear the taint of moral turpitude. H.L. Mencken, famous for scathing quotes of high controversy, noted this basic tendency many years ago: “The theory seems to be that as long as a man is a failure he is one of God’s children, but that as soon as he succeeds he is taken over by the Devil.” So the nouveau-riche are most exposed to being detested as double-dealers.

The pattern many so-called “vetted, curated” cultural experts, revisionist-historians, confirmation bias-addled professors and key thinkers have described—does it properly reflect the varying importance of the competitive element in societies?

A successful society must be vigilant and competitive—the eye is on the prize. Once the prize seems to have been obtained, it’s time to relax and enjoy life. Eternal vigilance may be the price of liberty, but how tiresome it becomes! It seems that—in modern western societies—we do not feel the need to protect the values that have led to our success.

This ethos became quasi-codified by those involved with a post-modern form of socialist agitprop, bent on minimizing the American tradition of free speech while attacking the great American genius for entrepreneurial capitalism. This is where kindness mutates into a formula for disaster. Here’s a push to more than simply understand one another, but insist that students of certain backgrounds be treated more leniently than others, so that it would appear as though grades, test scores and backgrounds were irrelevant compared to strength of a “lived experience” metric. Instead of getting along naturally, we were manufacturing the appearance of equality. We were also ignoring the fact that actual behavior (mimicking the basic principles of nature’s bell-curve subroutine, a pitiless critic of achievement and survival value) would remain unchanged.

Woe to those who possess the temerity to challenge the egalitarian ethos and express doubts about the wisdom of its wholesale groupthink. To avoid being doxed you’ll be required to swallow values antithetical to each other, while a previously-distinct version of the individual, with its separate capabilities and ideas, sinks beneath the new wave of conformity.

The heretical view of the non-collectivist “hierarchical thinker” is socially-programmed to be reviled as a hostile operative by progressive thought police—bemoaned as reckless, unjustified and in bad taste. By unleashing a pile of new global social engineering rules and regulations, can things simply be razed for fairness’ sake?

American exceptionalism is a hard-won status symbol, but we’re also not-so-special in the stoic sense of the long run: All civilizations come to an end. We’re not the first to wonder whether we are in the process of committing cultural suicide, paving the way for a country that is more patient, focused, and determined, seemingly untroubled by hesitation and self-doubt.

As Montesquieu says, “the deterioration of a government begins almost always by the decay of its principles,” and most importantly—“Useless laws weaken the necessary laws.”

Examining the extent of our overreach is part of our duty in liberty and the search for meaning.

Why are We Over-Monitoring and Overcorrecting?

The answer—I think—is that there is an almost desperate desire to see the world not as it is (too unpleasant), but as it “should” be. Thomas Sowell has described it as exchanging what works for what sounds good. The underlying unattainable goal is “equality.” Capitalism inherently creates sink-or-swim social inequality, the decolonizing of dialectics, and disharmony.

This determination to find or create equality underlies multiculturalism, affirmative action, identity politics, the revived interest in socialism, and—of course—political correctness itself, which forbids the hurting of feelings lest anyone suffer an “inequality” of self-esteem. Those on the side of “equality” feel morally superior, signal their virtue and, being on the side of the angels, find cynical pacts with the devil—like shutting other people up or “canceling” them—to be entirely justified.

Given the American penchant for recalibration to the baseline moral good of equality, the past decade has seen the rise of valiant anti-capitalist progressives who, as Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal describes, “dictate what words can be said and ideas held, thus poisoning and paralyzing American humor, drama, entertainment, culture and journalism. Their entire program is accusation: You are racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic; you are a bigot, a villain, a white male, a patriarchal misogynist, your day is over. They claim to be vulnerable victims, and moral. Actually they’re not. They’re mean and seek to kill, and like all bullies they are cowards.”

Noonan throws the provocative hard-line laser stare with a side dish of extra shade. Others prefer a narrative that tries not to get stuck in a polarizing chicane. Here’s what I see when the growing “woke-or-die” portion of American society wants to give its enemies the pointy end from within the encapsulated comfort of a closed loop: You’re telling the world “it’s easier to pathologize (vilify) opposition to your cherished policy, idea or conviction than it is to actually argue for it. Under these conditions, anyone’s criticisms will be burned in effigy.”

And why is this closed loop yearning to dictate and gain control? It is the backhanded bid for its own elitism. If they could not create it through the existing system, they will forge another.

The Principle is Central Inspection

This entire cultural miasma of Orwell-grade doctrine has been enabled and accelerated by the digital information stream and the sprawling surveillance latticework that governments and corporations—plus parts of the dark web—have assembled as the price for your conveniences, advanced practicalities and digital joys. It’s an imperfect arrangement and we think we’ve analyzed the trade-offs.

It has a new look, but there’s an old carrot-and-stick lurking in the back, finding purchase in the development of an “accretion/loss management syndrome”® that preys on humankind’s ancient yearning to belong.

Like the illogical lean-in toward a litigious nanny state you can see it writ larger still: What the US Constitution gave you, Big Tech and the fine print of homeland surveillance—as detailed in the Patriot Act—taketh away. We’ve tried to course-correct some of the gnarled overreach in this bit of legislation with numerous amendments, but it fundamentally set the tone for the 21st century. Some of it is Republican (like the Patriot Act, ostensibly designed to strengthen national security), and some of it is Democrat (designed to shame America into shifting the culture and the Overton window to their aims). They intertwine and you cannot exclusively blame one or the other for the whole of it.

The French philosopher Michel Foucault revitalized interest in the panopticon in his 1975 book Discipline and Punish. Foucault used the panopticon as a way to illustrate the proclivity of disciplinary societies to subjugate their citizens. He describes the prisoner of a panopticon as being at the receiving end of asymmetrical surveillance: “He is seen, but he does not see; he is an object of information, never a subject in communication.”

As a consequence, the inmate polices himself for fear of punishment. Extrapolate and attach your own metaphor, cross-reference, parable and truth to the firmament of this idea. (A topic that’s already been covered in previous quarterly articles, including MEMEX + EXIT FACEBOOK.)

The principle is central inspection. Human beings are famous for constantly improving such controls in the instinctual race to survive and dominate. You can do central inspection by web, cloud, CCTV. You don’t need a round building to do it. Supercomputers might add turbo, but you could get the job done with less. Monitoring electronic communications from a central location, that is panoptic. It erodes the authenticity of peoples’ reactions as it snags them in their own strings, their coping mechanisms and their opposing will to overcome perceived provocations.

It’s no coincidence how those technologists, politicians, corporations and nebulous influencers who broke the privacy barrier place a massive premium on their own privacy. You can try to track who sold you the cure from the one who engineered the system in the first place, but they’re often the same.

Conclusion: I Always Liked You Just as You Never Were

This ironic subhead echoes a fairly rigged, myopic worldview. It speaks of a quantum superposition in history where we pretend we’ve known each other all along, but did not. It speaks to a certain integrity-free politeness we’ve foisted upon each other, and how our unrealistic everyday assumptions and expectations can devolve into a terse narrative that locks out the ability to change. Worse, the PC knives will come out if you don’t support it. Families fracture along ideological rifts, friendships dissolve, and the country runs up record demographic numbers in terms of isolation and loneliness. For the latest figures and academic studies, just search under “epidemic of isolation and loneliness.”

The obvious recommendation is that it’s clearly best not to get too emotionally stretched over this article’s main topic—yet witness how insidiously it grows, how potentially damaging it is for the young and unprepared!

A little time aloft can distill meaning from the background noise, and we’re usually better off for the effort. Afterward, we’re wiser and freer to gravitate toward the upward truth in the cyclical or chaotic nature of things—it seems to hold value on a higher common ground, even if it’s technically unreachable.

I’m a wolf for pattern recognition in systems, societies, and other modalities, so I get the general entropy motif (all of this critical thinking creates). Here’s what it comes down to:

If it’s been oversimplified for the sake of virtue signaling and pandering, you’ll rarely get an honest insight. We’re all left to sort out the dissonance on our own time. We once lost sleep over it, but it turns into background noise after a while. They traded the potentially volatile winds of an honest discussion for what could be characterized as an arbitrary hand-out.

Overcompensation is also an equal rights issue when the pendulum swings back too far in the other direction. Who’s going to tell any successful American “we’re going to create a new version of inequality that you’ll need to condone and otherwise ignore, while being defenestrated, or the penalty will double”? Perhaps they need to learn how to apologize for over-achieving? Such disorder might hasten “comply-or-die” time, when people either pick up the gauntlet or split into factions.

[ “Frosted Hideaway, Neon Beacon & Wires” (image: DEM) ]

Along the way to providing privileges that take into account past wrongdoings and the future need for a level playing field, we now see how it can get overcooked. The previously oppressed, when given a chance to do so, attempt to go beyond equality and into a mode called “now it’s our turn to be the oppressor.” Old-school gender discrimination and cronyism in business, decried for decades, is now a two-way street. Demographics traditionally perceived as objects of historic or ongoing racism generate plenty racists of their own making.

Leverage prearranged and contrived is the leverage used, and then some. It’s a basic human instinct. The collective outcome’s not what we wanted, but it is predictably what we always get. And the top dogs, whoever they are, still aren’t ceding an inch to anybody without a fight.

Life must exist in spaces where nothing is equal, and nothing is free, which is why there’s a running ledger compelling us to be useful. Occam’s razor joins the basic ascentionist struggle for hierarchical dominance. We’re born to variability, bedlam, and other potentially unsavory constants many of our social experiments would prefer to ignore.

People are fine and often great as they are, and don’t need phony enabling, nor would they deserve presumably “free” money for limited productivity and output under normal conditions and expectations. Our post-modern ideals have added pressure for us to become too dogmatic while viewing traditional leaders, winners and ways of life as the “devil’s default thinking”… OK fine, let’s say we do that, let’s say the rebranded idealism is charitable—still, what kind of new skew are we creating?

Similar to Werner Herzog’s portrayal of Grizzly Man, I do indeed have an agenda: to expose the ways in which we fool ourselves and the ways in which we transfer our narcissism into a destructive form of do-gooderism that no one has the courage to second guess.

[ “We’re Not Looking at the Real World” ]

. . . … . . .

Lyrics Deconstruction Project 4: Two Songs to Work it Out

. . . … . . .

Decent songs often hold a concentrated yet detached power to subliminally dial in “what’s really going on” around us. In baroque twists of metaphor, the composition of these two are 80%+ complete. In the singer-songwriter tradition the lines are 100% finished, as are the vocal accompaniments, but the vocals remain open to collaborative criticism, debate and suggestion in terms of final delivery, pacing and intonation. Instrumentals are essentially threaded and more than 50% formed, but require the creative input and buy-in of a band to knit itself together properly.

There is an aloof, revealing openness in the lyrical word, which is why the LDP series exists. It originates from the utmost humanly-detached perspective I can muster while still making a point that is bespoke and memorable or useful to others. Regardless of that austere preparation, real art doesn’t happen without putting your heart on a platter—a grandiose gesture paradoxically paired with knowing you’re nothing more than a pin-drop in the wilderness.

Short list of salty conjoined threads:

  • Genre: Alternative rock layered with dirty electronic tricks (glitches, synthetic beats and sound effects poured over a core suite of acoustic instruments), all designed to raise the specter of an “ethereal digital soul” assimilating the biological world.
  • Themes: Obliteration, space to think, and a slow dive into soft abolition of sensibility.
  • Parallels: If these songs had an equivalent in Western cinema, then they’re Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, which was an aesthetic, operatic masterpiece in its time.
  • Silver Lining: There is a morbid wit to counter the barbs of a cruel world.
  • Reverie: That one particular night of unusual risks, rekindled from youth.
  • Memory of fear, revised: in realms of excess, a cool-burning “death instinct as luxury.”
  • Political science and psychology: Those who follow what was created inevitably hate the creator for several key existential reasons (too long to cover here).

Song 1 / subliminal: paradox of attitude // institutionalized surveillance for the cause of virtue // a long shared history of getting fooled by the medium and the message // a shallow attempt at denouement with recognition of the ugly truth behind a shared past // weak token gesture to somehow right longstanding imbalances // revisionist history as weak closure for a nation // ending = failed attempt and sum loss, but not necessarily negative.

Song 2 / random angles: using artifice as a weapon or shield on one hand, and the retreat from those who do so on the other // bad judgment no longer leads to death as often as it did when life was harsh and individualistic // human intelligence, in some ways, has gotten worse since civilization made life easier, allowing dimmer individuals to survive and pass on their genes // a random jackpot of cinematic references to Logan’s spiritual end game and the futuristic deep state lie of “carousel” (sanctioned by Logan’s Run, where citizens are programmed from birth to view their early termination at age 30 as a magical reincarnation).

“OPEN THE FADER”

[ no instrumental opening / vox immediately, all else builds from line 2 ]

Could you do mine up in fat laces?
I’m trying to remove all traces
Of a certain twist in history
That came between you and me…

From Sun Tzu to Ian Fleming
It’s a whole other secret menace we’re condemning,
Carbonized in a crater where machines died
In a race riot… wipe the record interface ri-otttt-t-t-t-t-t-t-t…

Redacted dude, they looked you up through ECHELON
But we know what’s going on—
I hear their fancy talk and then it’s magic in my mind,
And it causes me to fade out… before the party’s really over…

[ up-tempo, into a higher octave for the chorus ]

So don’t pour wine on me tonight,
Just open the fader
And sound it out with me:
Tonight. Tonight. Tonight.

Saw you drifting past the flames in a sweet car
Shiny tiny metal predatory, yeah, right where you set the bar,
Cutting tropes under the skin, whose fault ya gone too far…
Always {Yahweh’s} playing the dumb card, whoah-uh-O-oh,
Flip the “I’m-number-one” card, whoah uh-uh ohhh…
Some drown by the riverbed… without water

So don’t pour wine on me tonight,
Just open the fader
And sound it out with me:
Tonight. TONIGHT. TONIGHT!!!

[ sweeping, undulating bass-driven break into final flourish ]

So maybe we’re not ready yet, from alpha to omega…
Gonna tap the boosters — engage the up-link to “shut the fuuuck up”
But Sugar never choose it — sugar never even try…
Why do we do this? It’s not like we truly use this ohhhhh
The shadow-ban in a “reply…”
Well we couldn’t be friends… but at least we tried. 

[ repeat “at least we tried” 3X disappearing / absorbed by outro sounds ]

“AXES SWAY”

[ instrumental intro, refractory beat ]

Amusement’s dropping adages for the sake of rights of passages,
We burned-up data packages — in a world without, what’s good for these?
As you shoulder through the spider webs, in satellites of big cities?

The space they form is liminal, they’re the laissez-faire criminal:
If it thinks for you, you better deceive
Hands bleed, you better believe
When bitter children get wind of these schoooools…
Go ‘head and break them, every golden rule
that youooo’d impo-ose — disable controls…

[ up-tone to an ’emotional rescue’ type falsetto ]

And if it’s got fangs then I wanna shake the venom from your bones…
It’s a really short life and I don’t wanna see you lost in Andromeda…
’Cuz I think you’re gonna be pretty lonesome out there…
I think you gonna be pretty lonesome, out there…  hoooo.

[ big break + switch-over to 2-song collision: vox come down, add shades of stone roses style ]

Repetition swings, the syndrome stares and does its thing
Into the universe
I’ll disappear… _ …one day… ­_ …forever (wooo-oo-oooooh…)
And that’s where
I’ll find my axes sway…
It don’t Echo-ooooooh
It don’t Ech-ooooooo, ee-whoah-oh-oohhhhhhhh
No it don’t Echo….
So don’t let go…..eeeooo ohh ohhhhhh…

[ loop that last line 1X, implement ‘word stretch’ into loose, static-y yodeling sounds ]

Stellar ashen fire fell… through the trees
It delegated the breeze… now it goes where it please
Slo-mo and blown every which way to home
And still it don’t echoooooooo… so don’t let go

Cinders-n-blossoms dusted the scene…
So she fell to her knees…
Pleaded “don’t let go, go, go…”
But they don’t echoooo…_…eeeoh-Yo-YOooohhhh

[ loop back half of that last line 2X, segue into instrumental change + soulful emphatic ending ]

Some stolen moments… well you could just have a taste
Some stolen MO-ment…
Some stolen moment of grace, of grace OF GRACE…
Some stolen mo-MENT,
Some stolen moment of grace from outer space…

[ repeat several X w/ classic fade-away-to-silence ending ]