Crafting Names For Fictional Peoples By Geography & Ethnos

In fiction writing, it is quite difficult to come up with a name for a group of people, whether they be a tribe, kingdom, nation or empire. Yet, even if you come up with a good name, the meaning of the name bares some consideration for culture-building within your fictional world (ie. when the named polity reflects back on their founding, will you as the author be able to have them describe why they are called what they are?).

For example, if you come up, in a think-tank secession, with the name ‘Daedalion’ for a fictional kingdom, you may well find that it ‘sounds good’ or ‘rolls off the tongue’ but what does it mean, why are these people called Daedalions? Or are the people called something else and it is only the Kingdom which is called Daedalion? All these things must be accounted for (if inter-world culture building is to be the goal – if not, then not, as might be the case in short story concerned principally with conveying a message through parable or analogy).

In my own writing I have discovered two techniques which make the name process quite easy: geography and ethnos. By geography, I mean I consider where the people live, so, for example, in my current novel-in-progress (Tomb of the Father) there is a group of tribal desert wanderers who factor importantly into the plot, yet, I came to trouble coming up with their name, until, that is, I recalled that loesses (calcareous silt or clay deposits) are partial to certain mountain desert regions and hence came to call them ‘Loessians’ – the loess, of course, denoting that they came from a region where silty, clay deposits were common.

A further example: the main bulk of the story in Tomb of the Father revolves around a fictional group that lives in moorlands filled with ancient tors or kopjes (large, free-standing stone outcroppings) and hence, I named them ‘Torians.’ The suffix, however, need not always be -ian(s), as I could just as easily have named them Torites, Torels, etc, or more simply, The Tors (Torian simply best rolled off the tongue).

With the geographical tactic out of the way, let us turn our attention to ethnos (which means ‘people of the same race or regionality who share a distinctive, coherent culture’). For this naming method I do not look to regional terrain and instead focus upon the character of the polity/ethnic group itself.

For example: a seafaring peoples in my novel exhibited skillful mercantilistic ambitions and were extremely guarded concerning their financial affairs and transactions and so I named their province ‘Tyvault’ as a play on words (ie. tie-the-vault → tie-vault → ty-vault) and hence the people came to be known as the ‘Tyvaultians’.

When both the ethno and geo naming methods are plied together, I have found that it simplified naming to a significant degree while at the same time, not detracting from, but indeed, adding too, the depth of meaning of a fictional polity.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: In the Case of No Hope of Opening a Dialogue

It’s also entirely possible you won’t have any means of achieving direct communication with the AI. This is especially true if you live in a relative non-tech hub such as the no-mans-lands of Arkansas, the wilds of Saskatchewan, or the jungles of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

If this sound like your situation, it is advisable to simply lay low. Consider yourself on the sidelines. For your sake, maybe it’s even better that way. Until further notice, just put this book aside (what are you doing with it anyway?) and focus on things that you enjoy, like taking long walks in the jungle—because any day now it may be your last.

Alternatively, if you find this book amusing and would prefer to keep reading, let me offer a suggestion:

Start a new religion with this text as your holy book. The AI that has taken over in a far and distant land is humanity’s one true God, and this text in written directly by God’s prophet. As a scholar of this text, you can go out among your people and speak the good news: You can be saved! There is a purpose to this unfair, dull, and arduous thing you call life! All you have to do is study this text! And when God at long last arrives in this backwoods excuse for a civilization, maybe, with luck and an unjustified faith in the power of generically optimistic thinking, we, too, can escape annihilation!

Technodialogics: Considerations of the False Ruins of the Future & New Models of Discursive Mediation

The False Ruins of the Future

Conversations pertinent to large-scale change – whether positive, negative or unclear – are fraught with discursive problems, namely, those involving prevailing eschatological modalities, which drive up anxiety and fear and abolish any semblance of reason, thereby making effective, human-positive1 communication, and thus, adaptation, difficult or impossible, as the future – in a eschatological schema – is conceptually fixed. Invariable. If one truly believes that through divine providence or scientific validation, the end of the world is swiftly approaching, then there is no reason to engage in skeptical discourse. One knows the end is neigh. What is there to debate? Who can jaw with the reaper? What hubris! This anti-discursive attitude is intensified by numerous cognitive propensities, most of which are not made explicit in classical folk psychological schemas. That is to say, we do not think the way we think we think. Our “map of the world” is accurate to the degree necessary for survival and propogation but it does not disclose itself to us, hence why one cannot think a thought, rather, the thought renders itself apparent to the self, as if of its own accord. When one recoils in fear from a snake it is not because that individual “thought through” the risks posed by the presence of the reptile, but rather, because some portion of the biological system “raised the alarm.”

Further, when such eschatological beliefs become societal norms, then, so to shall their attendant anti-discursive or anti-dialogical behaviors which is a problem as a certain degree of discursive openness is required for coherent and efficient societal or civilization operation.

The best contemporary example of the potency of eschatological thinking can be found in contemporary climate catastrophism2, a modern end-times political theology which holds that unless immediate, collective, drastic action is taken by near the whole of the world – typically in the form of total de-industrialization – the earth’s slight warming trend will intensify, causing widespread ecological disaster and the end of humanity, or, at least, the end of civilization as such. The acolytes of this disasterism arrive at these conclusions – generally – through the regurgitation of a narrative propagated via various media outlets, both mainstream and independent, credentialed and rogue. In this modern iteration of the end of all things, is not divine providence which closes the book of history, but rather, man’s own hubris and destructive drives (typically conceptualized as masculine); the ceaseless accumulation of natural resources and so on. Whilst it is obvious that there is clearly a mild warming trend it is not at all obvious that this will lead to invariable disaster, certainly nothing so extreme as human extinction; what makes the climate catastrophist’s eschatology even more unlikely is that they often give time-tables for when global warming is to begin causing the collapse of civilization, yet these predictions are consistently proven wrong (consider the predictions made by Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth). It is pertinent to mention that similar claims emerged in the 1970s, only at that time the fear was of global cooling, not global warming. In 1963, the American climatologist, J. Murray Mitchell showed that a global cooling trend had been occurring since 19403. Then, in 1968, ecologist Paul Ehrlich, in his book The Population Bomb decried the western world using the atmosphere as “a garbage dump.” In 1970 the Washington Post published a article colorfully titled Colder Winters Held Dawn Of New Ice Age: Scientists See New Ice Age In The Future. Concern over global cooling reached an apex in 1972 through 1973 when Asia and parts of North America witnessed peculiarly severe winters. In 1972, famed geologist and founder of paleoceanography, Cesare Emiliani, wrote, “Man’s activity may either precipitate this new ice age or lead to substantial or even total melting of the ice caps…”4. One could continue piling on example after example of such dire predictions; as is obvious, these predictions were false. It is pertinent to mention that many academics and scientists, of the time, contested this view and argued that global warming was the true future threat and not global cooling, but certainly, the most apocalyptic declarations of the period came from the global cooling camp.

The lesson here to draw is that humans are relatively (one might even go so far as to say, intrinsically) bad at predicting the future with any degree of accuracy; the further out into the future we attempt to wade – as a general rule – into the future, the less accurate such predictions become. Despite the faulty models and the erroneous predictions of the global cooling scare of the 1970s, many activists, scientists and politicians are now convinced that man-made global warming is consuming the world and that extinction – either of humans, or various non-human species – is inevitable. The fear strikes so deep that a whole new name for the present epoch has been devised, the “anthropocene,” a word which is often spied in the pages of academic journals trumpeting, in the most convoluted and speculative of ways, all manner of anti- and post-human futures5.

Of course, this does not mean that climate variation should not be taken into consideration, rather, it absolutely should. However, even if the projected temperature increase of 4 ◦c and sea level rise of 0.7 m ends up being correct (and it might not), that is not a change which humans, as a species, could not successfully adapt to; we have, after all, already survived an ice age6. There can be no valid or sound plotting-out of any future trajectory for our species if, from the outset, one assumes that everything is for naught, nor if one assumes everything will always work out in humanity’s favor, generally, or some portion of humanity’s favor. Persistent and totalizing pessimism is every bit as irrational as persistent and totalizing optimism, and yet the former eventuality tends to win out in popular discourse. This may strike one as odd, given that Man is now at the height of his powers. His technology has never been greater, his mind has never been sharper (chiefly due to machine-computational intensification and improvement in record keeping), his planetary reach has never been broader. Already, other planets are within his reach! Mars lies ripe for terraforming! Yet, despite these facts and promising horizons, a spectral precipice looms on the dim horizon. One which goes under a variety of names and descriptors: The end times, climate hell, nuclear winter, A.I. catastrophe, gray goo, the horror of instrumental convergence7, alien invasions, and so on. There are also a variety of positive end of history scenarios: the various after-lives of the theists, the unified earth of Star Trek, wherein all scarcity has been banished through the utilization of matter-wrangling machines, Francis Fukuyama’s all encompassing global liberal democracy (which itself bears similarity to the totalitarian republic of the Jedi in Star Wars prequels) and so on. However, a cursory glance at the news and one realizes instantly that the negative scenarios are far, far more popular than the positive ones (even if utterly fictitious). Thus, the obvious question: Why?

Negativity Bias

In the words of Charles Tatum8, “Bad news sells best, cause good news is no news.” A variation of this sentiment which has also proved popular is, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Meaning, of course, that coverage of shocking or horrific events are far more widely covered by contemporary media industries than positive stories because of the powerful emotions they instinctively and immediately elicit. When a journalist is choosing between covering a story of a firefighter rescuing a kitten from a tree or a meth-crazed ax murderer, he or she is going to go with the latter at a far higher rate. When any given person looks to the news, they will gravitate to stories of violence, murder, rape and other highly negative events at a far higher rate then they will stories about kittens being rescued from trees, seals being rescued from clubbing operations or an amputee being gifted a robotic limb.

There is a evolutionary explanation for this propensity towards the macabre. Everyday the human brain receives a tremendous amount of information, far too much information to properly and thoroughly process. Thus, filters are required. Enter the amygdala or corpus amygdaloideum, the “almond tonsil,” the brain’s danger detector. The amygdala sits within the temporal lobe and is principally responsible for mediating memory, decision-making and emotional responses such as fear, anxiety and aggression and is larger in males (both adolescent and adult) than in females. The function of the amygdala is extremely important for survival, some 150,000 years ago it could mean the difference between life and death. For example, if you were a hunter-gatherer alone in a forest and you heard a rustling, it would generally be nothing but every once in a while it would be a real source of danger (a poisonous snake, a wolf, a bear, a warrior from a rival tribe, etc), thus, for the purpose of survival optimization, it is preferable, for the hunter-gatherer, to react as if the rustling were a threat every time. If it is nothing then there is nothing lost but a trivial amount of energy, if it is something, then one’s life is saved. This, in essence, is what is typically referred to as negativity bias, the propensity to pay more attention to things which entail danger, which are threatening. A simple example would be a picture where there are a number of relatively normal looking people and one individual in the background making a threatening gesture; one’s attention would instantly gravitate towards the threatening man in the background. It is for this relatively simple reason that bad news sells best. Understanding both this and psychometric analysis then allows one, if sufficiently amorally disposed, to be able to sway large portions of the population by forming a profile, determining psychological proclivities and then exploiting them in the best way possible through the utilization of negativity bias-infused narratives. A example of this technique in action can be seen in the political campaigns of the US Democrats and Republicans, wherein, almost invariably, a ideological particularity (aversion to “the other” for example) or policy (such as gun rights) will be singled out and presented in a wholly negative light, often with the insinuation if not outright declaration that cataclysm is the logical conclusion of the implementation/continuation of the said policy and/or ideology regardless of whether or not this is actually the case. The methodology of Reefer Madness applied to the modern age.

Psychographia

There has been much work done surrounding the psychology of negativity given the attendant lucrative and political potentialities. To properly understand the immense potential of cultivated negativity it is pertinent to turn to the marketing methodology known as psychographics9. In distinction to demographics, which focuses on age, class, race, location, fertility rates, etc, psychographics focuses instead upon psychological characteristics of a demographic, such as personality attributes, bias intensity and community attachment. Thus if, for example, one’s collected demographic information for a anti-aging crème is:

  1. Female.

  2. Age 40-65.

  3. Married, with children.

  4. Household income 90K +

One’s psychographic information on this hypothetical client might read:

  1. Frequent user of Instagram and LinkedIn.

  2. Highly preoccupied with personal appearance.

  3. Wants improvement in appearance without major lifestyle changes.

  4. Chooses expensive high-quality products over inexpensive middling-to-low-quality products.

  5. Career oriented.

  6. Looking for a career oriented man.

During the 2016 US elections the issue of psychographics received a great deal of attention when a rumor began that data acquisition and marketing firm, Cambridge Analytica (CA), had swayed the election in Donald Trump’s favor through the utilization of mass emotional manipulation. The company’s collection of information was extensive (though Ted Cruz’s team were unimpressed with their technical proficiency) but one little firm certainly couldn’t have swayed the entire election by itself, such a explanation is so reductionist as to be absurd. However, the company certainly did have a impact (in both Cruz’s and Trump’s campaign, as well as numerous others), specifically through the collection of massive amounts of publicly available information, principally from the social media giant Facebook. CA’s primary methodology relied heavily on machine learning. They would begin with a thorough survey which was often presented as a psych-test, which were then sent out to Facebook where they would be filled in by hundreds of thousands of different users. The answer to the psych-test surveys were then analyzed by CA and combined with preexisting data to form personality models which were then applied at the appropriate scale for a given target population.

Each one of these data points on its own is not that revealing, but the sum of them begins to paint a fairly comprehensive picture.  Today in the United States we have somewhere close to four or five thousand data points on every individual … So we model the personality of every adult across the United States, some 230 million people.” — Alexander Nix, chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, October 2016.

To understand CA’s pyschographic strategy, it is helpful to turn to their inspiration, the work of data analyst Michal Kosinski. Kosinski’s preferred methodology was to create online questionnaires and present them as online quizzes and disseminate them (principally via Facebook) and then plug the collected information (such as “likes” and “shares”) into the Big Five psychological model to determine personality. This enabled Kosinski to make a number of deductions based off of behaviors like consumer-brand affiliation; for example, he found that users who “liked” the cosmetics brand MAC were likely to be homosexual, whereas a high indicator for homosexuality was “liking” pages related to the rap band, Wu Tang Clan. Further, following the pop musician Lady Gaga correlated highly with extroversion whereas “liking” philosophy pages correlated highly with introversion. The correlation for each data point was slight and often too weak to make reliable predictions, however, the more data points which Kosinski aggregated, the more reliable the predictions became. At sufficiently large data thresholds, Kosinski was able to tell more about a given user than their closest friends could, purely based off of their digital footprints.

In 2012, Kosinski showed that with only 68 Facebook “likes” it was possible to determine a user’s skin color, sexual orientation and political and religious affiliation with a high degree of probability. In 2013, Kosinski published a paper titled Private Traits & Attributes Are Predictable From Digital Records Of Human Behavior, wherein he further documented his refined psychological assessment model, utilizing the standard Big Five10 personality attribution schema. Kosinski’s refined model was able to accurately discriminate between homosexual & heterosexual men in 88% of all cases, tell between Caucasian and African in 95% of all cases and discern correctly between democrat and republican in 85% of all cases, all based on 1 to 700 “likes” with a median of 68 “likes” per individual. The relevance of such studies to eschatological thinking can be found in the conclusions section of Kosinski’s paper wherein he writes:

Predicting usersindividual attributes and preferences can be used to improve numerous products and services. For instance, digital systems and devices (such as online stores or cars) could be designed to adjust their behavior to best t each users inferred profile (30). Also, the relevance of marketing and product recommendations could be improved by adding psychological dimensions to current user models. For example, online insurance advertisements might emphasize security when facing emotionally unstable (neurotic) users but stress potential threats when dealing with emotionally stable ones.”

So here we can see the tremendous potential of merging data-mining, marketing and psychoanalytics; by preying upon personality vulnerabilities one can manipulate whole populations of the digital ecosystem with a (increasingly) high degree of accuracy and the most interesting part of it all is that very few people are ever going to realize they have been manipulated in a targeted campaign at all.

The major takeaway from Kosinski’s studies is the simple fact that most people are not nearly as unique and unpredictable as they think they are in relation to their fellows. Of course, it is a somewhat bitter pill to swallow; no one likes being told that they are not special, that they are highly predictable, that they are not as unique as they thought they were; nor do most people understand the amount of data they are sharing (how many people, after all, read every single user agreement statement?) so there is a tremendous psychological barrier to taking psychographics seriously (and thus, to guarding against its utilization) even as it is used against various different populations (principally through marketing or political campaigns).

Dialogics

Dialogic means of or relating to dialogue. Let us establish a simple schema, what we shall call the dialogic model.

  • To be dialogical is to be disposed to dialogue, to discourse.
  • To be non-dialogical is to be in a state outside of dialogue.
  • To be anti-dialogical is to be opposed to discourse or, to enter into discourse only to subvert or disrupt it.

A dialogical individual is one who is conducive to conversation with his fellows. A non-dialogical individual is one who removes himself or herself from conversation or the prospect of conversation (such as a extreme introvert). A anti-dialogical individual is one who actively works to disrupt discourse (such as a political protester who attempts to shout down peaceful, conversant opposition). Clearly, from the standpoint of those who are in favor of a thriving civilization, a decidedly pro-dialogical approach is most generally beneficial whereas the non-dialogical approach is generally neutral and the anti-dialogical approach is decidedly negative (because discourse is necessary in a civilized society, baring conversation the only other options are systems-flight, total submission or violence). Thus, the goal should clearly be to build towards optimally dialogical societies.

This framework may appear to be trivial and obvious but in making these modalities explicit it also makes the actions attendant to the modalities explicit which thus predisposes inquiring individuals to adhere to said framework provided they broadly agree with the tenets which underpin them. The reason why a dialogical framework is pertinent to the aforementioned topics, namely, eschatological thinking, predisposition to negativity and psychometrics, is that it can be a useful tool to navigate and disentangle the irrational discursive artifacts produced by fixed future thinking. Of its own accord it is of little use, given that most political discussions are not driven by reasoned dialogue but rather by raw emotion. Hence, a new approach is required, we term the proffered alternative to classical dialogics, technodialogics.

Technodialogics

Technodialogics (or technodiaology) differs from classical dialogics in a number of consequential regards, first and foremost its users acknowledges the increasing centrality of technological mediation in human-to-human interactions and attempts to re-modulate every technology and space wherein it operates towards proadaptive and contraentropic narrativity and is thus opposed to all eschatology and to any discourse which discloses the future of the human and to anything which freezes the present, chilling discourse through factual distortion and emotional manipulation via the belief in a fixed end-point of social development (whether positive or negative). That is to say, technodialogics is fundementally exotropic and is thus concerned with fostering discussions of continual and incremental improvement which are evaluated via formal, logical, objective (falsifiable) or probabilistic (i.e. Bayseian) metrics.

Whilst it is obvious that human-to-human communication is increasingly modulated by the web and the technological apparatuses which are born out of and which plug into it, this is rarely made explicit and just like with the dialogic model, the more explicit a conceptual structure is made, the more easy it is to utilize, especially for those who, in part, acknowledge its worth and who might, in part, be operating in accordance with it. The strength in making explicit concepts which were hitherto implicit is to be found in the increase of personal articulation and thus, potential intermediation. Further, the precise degree of cybernetic integration witnessed by all industrial western-styled societies is rarely taken into consideration in questions of inter-personal communication. The usage of social media platforms, message boards, streaming services, etc, are, of course, recognized as popular, but the particular character of the sites themselves are themselves sketched out in the same way that the character of the City of Pittsburgh or New York City are. Cyberspaces like Twitter, Facebook, Gab, Tumblr or Mastadon are much newer than earthspaces such as New York City or Pittsburgh and thus have been given less time for historical accumulation and thus, description, but the former have a peculiarity of character much the same (given that they are continuously converging upon each other, cloud to earth, earth to cloud). Technodialogics accounts and maps these cyberspaces without making any significant distinctions between them and real world municipalities, for, after all, they have their own unique populace, their own forms and customs, their own culture, their own religions, their own linguistic peculiarities and economies and their own collective fears and aspirations. It is this latter quality which technodialogicians must pay particular attention to for all sociopolitical decisions, whether in earthspace or cyberspace, are determined by collective fear or hope; fear of geographic displacement, economic turmoil, war, the loss of a particular collective identity, etc, or, hope for a better, more prosperous future, hope of life-saving medical advancements in science and technology, hope for a more stable political ordering and thus, a better life for a population’s children, etc.

In addition to the character of spaces, technodialogics incorporates psychometric data acquisition into the discursive process, utilizing personality models, not to sell a product, but to foster more sanguine discussions for more optimal and mutually beneficial cooperation whether between individuals, corporations, NGOs or governments. Through the utilization of the Big Five personality model in conjunction with the dialogic model and sufficient data points, it is possible to determine the relative pro, anti, or non-dialogicality of a particular individual and thus, provided even more data points, the pro, anti, or non-dialogicality of any given group or groups whose information is readily available. Combining these metrics with a specific study of network effects and the psychological effects of site utilization would then provide even further tools which could be used to determine what vector of conversation a particular individual or group is most amenable to and at what time, on what sites.

Technodialogics also takes account of the importance of planetary-scale computing and its efficacy in fostering cross and inter-cultural discussion. Solidified and congealed political and religious currents are significant forces for in-group cohesion but also act as a bulwark against further discourse due deep-seated out-group aversion as the alien by mere dint of its otherness, intrinsically threatens the bounds of normalcy, of “usness”. However, it is now easier than ever before, through global communication systems, to engage in inter-group discourse without engendering significant erosion of cultural or territorial sovereignty, which large numbers of foreign bodies can portend (as witnessed in the European migrant crisis). The question of autonomous sovereignty and identity is crucial to successful communication, regardless of whether one is operating at the individual or collective level and, of course, the larger up one scales (that is, the larger the number of people to which one is attempting to communicate to) the more important this concept becomes. In summation, technodialogics is a syncretic process for measuring and improving dialogicality through the judicious incorporation of the best available options and mediation and navigation of the best available spaces. In this way, technodialogics is a normative sýnnefocratic mindset that entails a prescriptive methodology for interpersonal, discursive mediation.

1By this we mean any action which increases human thriving or the potential for human thriving without unduly damaging the potential for any other humans – concomitant to the general project – to thrive.

2It is important to note that we are not here dismissing the importance of widespread temperature change, but are only taking issue with those views that hold that extinction is a invariable conclusion (which it obviously isn’t).

3Thomas C. Peterson et al. (2008) The Myth Of The 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus. American Meteorological Society.

4Cesare Emiliani. (1972) Quartenary Hypsithermals. Quaternary Research. 2 (3): 270-3.

5It is important to draw a distinction between anti-humanism, post-humanism and transhumanism, so as not to conflate the whole of speculative post-human thought with transhumanism as transhumanism is specifically concerned with improving the human condition through the utilization of technology and is thus a distinctive sub-set of posthumanism but not wholly representative of it as posthumanism includes numerous schools of thought.

6See: DNA Evidence Proves That Early Humans Survived The Last Ice Age.

7The most famous example of problems arising from instrumental convergence are illustrated via the paperclip maximizer scenario postulated by philosopher Nick Bostrom in 2003. Bostrom stated: “Suppose we have an AI whose only goal is to make as many paper clips as possible. The AI will realize quickly that it would be much better if there were no humans because humans might decide to switch it off. Because if humans do so, there would be fewer paper clips. Also, human bodies contain a lot of atoms that could be made into paper clips. The future that the AI would be trying to gear towards would be one in which there were a lot of paper clips but no humans.” He went on to say that he did not believe that such a scenario per-se was likely, but rather, he meant for the scenario to illustrate the intrinsic danger of super-intelligent machines.

8Charles “Chuck” Tatum is a fictional character and the central focus of the 1951 Billy Wilder film, Ace In The Hole. Tatum was a intelligent, amoral sensationalist who would do anything to pen a lurid headline even if that meant creating a disaster.

9Psychographics is also referred to alternatively as “psychometrics.”

10The Big Five or Five-factor (FFM) personality model contains five personal attributes which are used for psychological assessments: Openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeability, neuroticism. The assessment model is sometimes denoted by the acronyms OCEAN or CANOE.

The Artifice of Always

Nature never really was anything more than artifice.

This is not the accepted view.

There exists a widespread belief that at some point in human history Man and Nature separated from each other; that they are things of intrinsically different quality and that this is very bad. The general sentiment holds that a beaver’s dam is natural but a house is unnatural. A wasp nest is natural but a computer is unnatural. And natural things are better, more pure. For a random example, we can look to the article The Separation Between Man and Nature by Julie Bentley from Odyssey wherein the author writes, “Technology is the ultimate separation between man and nature. We would rather get to the top of a mountain and text the first person we know about it than to sit down and admire the majesty and the vastness of the mountaintop. Think about how many things we have missed passing in the car because we’re on our phone.”

The first and most obvious question this raises is what makes human technology fundamentally unnatural since given the title itself she clearly doesn’t believe humans themselves are unnatural (as her utilization of “separation” implies there was a point of cleavage between what was once a wholesome union). The second pertinent question is: is the information contained within the phone more important than the information which could be garnered from gazing out a window at any given point in time? The answer is highly dependent upon the context of a given car-ride, clearly if one is the driver and their phone is not voice-operated then it is unwise to utilize it whilst driving given the increased risk of a crash, yet this has nothing to do with being natural or unnatural (which is really just to say, common or uncommon), but rather, risk-mitigation from two “unnatural” pieces of human artifice: a car and a phone. Further, one can easily reverse the ending cry of dismay and say quite reasonably instead: “How many things we have missed on our phones because we’re gazing idly out the window of a car.”

Now, without a proper definition of what “Nature” is, this delineation makes no sense. So let us concretely define our terms via The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th Edition), which defines nature as:

  • n. The material world and its phenomena.

  • n. The forces and processes that produce and control all the phenomena of the material world: the laws of nature.

  • n. The world of living things and the outdoors: the beauties of nature.

  • n. A primitive state of existence, untouched and uninfluenced by civilization or artificiality: couldn’t tolerate city life anymore and went back to nature.

  • n. (Theology) Humankind’s natural state as distinguished from the state of grace.

  • n. A kind or sort: confidences of a personal nature.

  • n. The essential characteristics and qualities of a person or thing: “She was only strong and sweet and in her nature when she was really deep in trouble” ( Gertrude Stein).

  • n. The fundamental character or disposition of a person; temperament: “Strange natures made a brotherhood of ill” ( Percy Bysshe Shelley).

  • n. The natural or real aspect of a person, place, or thing. See Synonyms at disposition.

  • n. The processes and functions of the body.

When one shores away all of those definitions of the word which pertain to character, disposition and those which are further clarifications of previously mentioned descriptions, one is left with only three principal definitions:

  • (1) The material world and its phenomena.
  • (2) Humankind’s natural state as distinguished from the state of grace.
  • (3) A primitive state of existence, untouched and uninfluenced by civilization or artificiality.

Definition 2 is a neurological phenomena and thus, too particular to be useful (it is also not typically what people mean when they refer to “nature” either casually or academically). However, definitions 1 and 3 demand some deliberation as they are both plausible and the two most commonly used. The problem is that definition 1 obviates 3, because 1 covers the whole of the material world it would — of necessity — include human beings, whereas definition 3 does not and in fact, mandates the exclusion of human beings from the natural order. One might be tempted to say that definition 3 only mandates exclusion of human civilization and artifice, and that would be fine insofar as civilization were concerned, but the whole of human existence is predicated upon artifice, as even something as simple as crafting a wooden spear or flint-kindling a campfire is still “artifice” no matter how primitive, as is the crafting of fur clothing and cave painting and so on and so forth. Thus, the two definitions are at loggerheads! However, the linguistic problem goes even further for just as all human artifice is a necessary product of bio-chemical action, so to might we also say that those bio-chemical actions themselves are natural artifice. This is to say that there is really nothing but artifice all the way down, the only meaningful distinction is between kinds of artifice – that is to say – between the various different forms of emergence, dissolution, recombination and reemergence.

To assert that the principal distinction between human artifice and non-human artifice is conscious direction — and to therefore imbue in human thought some cosmic separateness — is to affirm that there is nothing at the base of action which moves it or to assert some ghost-essence (the principal conceptual limiter in questions of “free” will); that your neurological impulses are not controlling for what makes you you, but that the conceptual you is controlling the neurological impulses. Humans do not require, as a matter of base principal, a understanding of the intricate operations of the brain and central nervous system, of the heart and lungs, we just needed to know (as we still do) that we are separate enough from the system which created us so as not to be killed by it.

This is all that lies at the base of identity.

Separation from the artifice of always is the necessary generative nexus for life itself.

 

Navigating The Spectrum: Future Universalistic vs. Present Particularistic

In my previous article, On the Prospects of Popular Right-wing Unification in America: The Starting Point of Unification, I wrote,

“To speak of unification with those who are counterpoised to order (and thus, opposed to civilization) is to beat one’s head against a wall. With that being said, unity is absolutely desirable among the right in as far as it is possible given the prolific predominance of Leftism (the ethos of the US is, let us not forget, one that is fundamentally communistic), specifically for the purposes of civilizational maintenance and restoration, as civilization is birthed and bound by unity. America can be greatly transformed by chaos as it has numerous times before (emancipation, civil rights, sexual revolution) but that transformation itself will then only be able to be sustained by its opposite; that is to say, a largely unified political body that stands for order.”

However, before we can even begin to talk about political unification we must clearly define who and what we are unifying – that is, the political right. So let us set ourselves to clearly defining our terms. I’d first like to hastily dispense with economic differentials, that is to say, the well-tread: capitalist vs. socialist. Far too facile. Yes, yes, Ben Shapiro might well define Italian Fascists as “Leftists” but he is in a unquestionably small minority. I wholly reject this Shapiroesque differentiation, it is far too particularist, for it means that no matter how nationalistic, no matter how concerned with thede and loyalty, a particular political party might happen to become, if it doesn’t have some variation of “free” market capitalism then it is “Leftist.”

No, the fundamental distinction between the political left and the political right is to be found, not principally in adherence to economic particulars, but rather, in loyalty. Leftists devout themselves to abstract ideals and tailor their loyalties accordingly. Rightists, in stark contrast, devout themselves to people, their people, and adjust their ideals accordingly.

Take the communists or international socialists, for instance, they do not give their fealty to any social body, to any man. Their principal failing is in pledging themselves to man as they wish he were rather than to man as he is. They give their unflinching loyalty to a kind of Rousseauian industrialism, rather than those of their flesh and blood – kith and kin matter little when placed side-by-side with the “Brotherhood of Man!” Secular Humanists follow a similar trajectory, their immediate loyalty is to the expansion of empathy to all humanity – in so thinly spreading their physiological resources they end up neglecting their own countrymen, their very own neighbors and families for the sake of people whom they will never meet, nor even see other than in photograph. Leftists only give their loyalty (with few exceptions) to other members of their in-group due to their ideological adherence (as can be easily seen by how swiftly they are currently devouring themselves – “You’re racist!” “No, you’re the racist!” “No, you two are both racists!” ect.), failing this, the dissident is silenced and cast off, exiled. This is not, of course, to say that the ring-wing does not sometimes exercise their own forms of ideological in-fighting, purity spiraling and shunning, but the scale and frequency of such action is simply incomparable.

There will always be a certain degree of ideological dissimilarity that prevents two groups from acting in harmonious concord. If group X wants peaceful cooperation and group Z wants the subjection of all groups not Z then there can, obviously, be no parsimony between X & Z. Such is axiomatic. What I am attempting to drive at is that forces typically connected to leftism, such as socialism, communist, globalism, deconstructionism, sexual freedom, ect, are all fundamentally predicated upon the notion that one’s primary, nor secondary nor even tertiary duty is not to their own people (whomever that may happen to be) but rather to one’s self OR to some version of the personal self that has yet to become a extant reality.

Primacy of the individual is a phrase often used by both the political right and left but the left’s highest values are bound up not merely in the primacy of the individual, it is, rather the primacy of all individuals, everywhere in the world, at all points in time even those periods of time that have yet to come to pass. 

This is obviously and axiomatically impossible, since not all individuals will be able to have the power to act as perfectly self-governed actors nor does it accurately account for moral hazard, for personal failing and the intense need for corrective oversight (children for instance, are now given absurd leeway due to the ethos of the “primacy of the individual,” to such a degree that one is now seeing a rise in child-transgenderism – if Tommy says he’s a girl, who are you to say otherwise? You’re not a bigot are you???).

Due to the obvious corrosive effects of future-extrapersonal loyalty, the ethos of empathy widening rather than correct distribution and control of empathy and general governmental universalism (as opposed to particularism), the political right should ever affirm loyalty to one’s own people as a a foremost principal, subordinate only to order itself, or, a different formulation: loyalty to order as the highest principal – for there is no lasting of those other splendid things, most cherish in human life, without stability.

In contrast to The Left (as a political establishment or burgeoning political body), who looks upon his dissident brother and says, You must be corrected or expunged! The true Right (not merely those playing the pose) looks upon his brother and takes his full measure first and foremost before committing to judgement.

In short,

The Left is future universalistic, whilst The Right is present particularistic.

Value Ordination: Political Paradigm as Argumentation

Innumerable are the number of political compass tests which one can take online, from Playbuzz to PoliticalCompass.org to the 8 Values Github Test, all of which are sifted through and poured over, studied and analyzed by the takers thereof as if in the action of so doing they will confer some hidden and eldritch wisdom unto the reader. The popularity of political compass tests however, does not lie in their viewing by the takers thereof but in their viewing by everyone else. People that are likely to take political compass tests are also likely to be highly engaged in politics and thus are already well aware of their own political views and where they are likely to lie on any given political compass test (unless the given test happens to be poorly constructed, and thus, woefully inaccurate). They are not really seeking out what their ideological positions are but are rather looking for a shared visual platform where their ideological uniqueness can be shown to others. A narcissist’s past-time.

The fixation here is more upon the position of the individual along the political compass than upon the ideas which place them there. This is reflective of American political discourse more generally, where discussions are generally started with the prompt, “Well The Left,” or, “You see this is just what The Right has been trying to do for years now-”

Right and Left are, of a certainly, highly useful linguistic tools but there is here a problem which manifests itself whenever a particular political moniker becomes more important that being correct, that is to say, logically parsimonious (utilizing economy of explanation to arrive at a conclusion).

That may sound like a obvious truism; certainly it is true but it is far less discernible that it is readily obvious. Such is evidenced by popular internetisms like, “There is nothing to the Right of me but the wall.” Meaning, of course, that there is no one more Right-wing than the person whom is spouting the aforementioned phrase. This is only a positive however if the Right-wing views which the speaker holds are actually correct. That is to say, Right and Left are not arguments in and of themselves, nor is a statement of any ideological inclination. To say, “That is a Communist position!” is only a sufficient position in as far as it is actually wrong/illogical; it is not wrong merely by dint of being associated with Communism (which, by and large should be suspect for its historical record of death and intense political instability). Thus, for the previous example, it should, make the argument more suspect but it should not incline one to dismiss it out of hand.

Such is also true with rebuttals like, “But that is Authoritarian!” Well… why is that a bad thing? One should really be asked to explain.

In short, in the American context, the political Left and Right are all too often interjected in place of argumentation. Whenever the words Left-wing and Right-wing are utilized as a argument unto themselves, rather than as placeholders for extremely wide-ranging idea-sets, one knows that one’s opponent has woefully lost the plot.