Etymology Of Culture: Cultivation To Encapsulation

In a 1771 letter to Robert Skipwith, Thomas Jefferson included a list of books, recommended for a general private library. Amongst them, Cicero’s Tusculan Questions (Tusculanae Disputationes), a series of texts concerning Greek stoicism. Of particular importance to contemporary semantics is Cicero’s use of cultura animi (cultivation of souls), similar to the German bildung (personal growth through philosophic education), as articulated by Wilhelm von Humboldt, which serves as the basis for the contemporary concept of “culture” as concretized in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries. What is interesting to note in relation to Cicero’s cultura animi, and contemporary usage of the word “culture,” is the specificity of the former and the all-encompassing broadness of the latter.

For example, contemporary publications speak of data culture, cannabis culture, gang culture, corporate culture and indeed, even crystal (meth) culture, which is to utilize ‘culture’ as a umbrella descriptor for any normative, collective (non-individual) human action and to ignore the (formerly important) aspects of character development (the privileging of cultura animi and bildung) itself. This semantic shift, then, represents a wholesale transition from ‘culture’ as descriptive assessment and proscriptive project, to mere encapsulation (pure description).

Cognizance of this fact raises the pertinent question: Since ‘culture’ is now deployed as a mere placeholder for everything that a group of humans does at any given point in time, regardless of the content of the action(s), what collective behaviors can be rightly described as ‘uncultured?’ Under the contemporary rubric: None. And so, what then is the purpose of using ‘culture’ as opposed to ‘collective action/behavior’ given that they are now used as synonyms?


Sources

  1. Adrian Bridgwater. (2019) Tableau Advocates Blueprint For ‘Data Culture’ In Business. Forbes.
  2. Marcus Tullius Cicero. (45 BCE) Tusculanae Disputationes (I-V).
  3. (2002) From Thomas Jefferson to Robert Skipwith, with a List of Books for a Private Library, 3 August 1771, Founders Online, National Archives, accessed September 29, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-01-02-0056. [Original source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 1, 1760–1776, ed. Julian P. Boyd. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950, pp. 76–81.]

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Fiction Circular 1/21/19

Circular Notes: Fiction Circular is focused on unearthing, presenting, congratulating and critiquing the best in new, independent fiction. By independent, we mean small presses, litmags and e-zines (with a particular, though not exclusive, focus on American works). Work is separated into three categories: Independent Authors (which covers self-published prose-works), Independent Publishers (which covers work from self-sufficient sites that feature the work of independent authors) and Literary Ephemera (which covers everything that isn’t prose-fiction, ie. poetry, experimental works, literary reviews, news, etc). If you know a piece, author or site of literature that you think we should include in our circular, do let us know, either through our email (logosliterature@yandex.com) or via the social media account of our admin (Kaiter Enless).

INDEPENDENT AUTHORS

Nothing to report.

INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS

X-R-A-Y published LAND SPEED by Alex Evans.

“On October 24th, 2011, Oscar Valentine broke the land speed record riding his Schwinn through a suburb outside of Madison, Wisconsin. People said that this was impossible, that Oscar Valentine, being neither a professional high-speed driver nor a legal adult at the time of the achievement, could not have exceeded 760 miles per hour.” — LAND SPEED, A. Evans.

From Terror House Magazine, Cannae (2019) by Proteus Juvenalis, a gripping and emotional tale of an unhappy and unfulfilled life and a fantastical flight from it. Mr. Juvenalis displays a unique prose style which mixes crisp minimalism with biting social commentary. He follows one of the best rules for short stories: omit needless words, as a consequence, we’d highly recommend his work.

“College-degreed, underemployed, on the wrong side of thirty. The scorn of my fellow American. Yeah, fuck you too.” — Cannae, P. Juvenalis.

North-Californian literary journal, Jokes Review has released Issue 5, featuring both prose-fiction and poetry.

“It’s my ritual,” he told Kurt the night he set fire to his first Applebee’s. “It helps me really hear the record.” — Thomas Burned Down The Applebees But The New Record Sounds Amazing, Kevin Sterne.

LITERARY EPHEMERA

Avani Singh of Blogggedit published a collection of her horror stories in the Kindle-available volume, Existence: They Do Exist (2019). I’m not really sure what to make of the name. Those who wish to support independent horror authors you can pick up a copy of her book through Amazon Kindle.

Alina Hansen announces work has begun on her first novel and promises future updates on the process.

Seasoned horror writer Laird Barron announces the definitive release date of book two of the Coleridge Series, Black Mountain.

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If there are any authors or publications you think should be included in the next circular, feel free to let us know in the comments.

On Typeface: Size, Selection & Distraction Mitigation

In any new writing project font type and size are key and the aim and medium of the project must be judiciously taken into consideration. Other than the obvious rule: avoid crazy and/or unreadable/difficult-to-read fonts, there are a couple of guidelines which, if followed will make one’s project move along more fluidly.

Firstly, fonts become standardized for a reason and that reason is generally that those which become widely used do so because of their readability and aesthetic dimensions (later, convention will gird them from change or modulation). The most popular fonts are those that have remained the easiest to create and which bring the most readability to their attendant texts. Some of the most popular fonts include:

  • Garamond (Claude Garamond, 1530)
  • Baskerville (John Baskerville, 1757)
  • Didot (Firmin Didot, 1784-1811)
  • Bodoni (Giambattista Bodoni, 1790)
  • Akzidenz Grotesk (Brethold Type Foundry, 1896)
  • News Gothic (Morris Fuller Benton, 1908)
  • Times (Stanley Morison, 1931)
  • Helvetic (Max Miedinger, 1957)
  • Sabon (Jan Tschichold, 1966)
  • Minion (Rober Slimbach, 1990)
  • Myriad (Robert Slimbach, Carol Twombly, Christopher Slye and Fred Brady, 1992)
  • Georgia (Matthew Carter, 1993)
  • Mrs Eaves (Zuzana Licko, 1996)
  • Gotham (Hoefler and Frere-Jones, 2000)

If one is writing a print work (such as a short story collection or novel) then the font type needs to be one which can be printed without losing clarity in relation to size and the size needs to be relative to the size of the page (accounting for bleed). This is generally not something which one will need to worry about if one is working with a competent and established publisher (as they will typically do this work for you), but it is quite important to understand if one wishes to engage in wholly independent self-publishing (where one will not only write the book, but design it, print it and market it as well).

If one is writing a text for the internet then multiplatform dispensation needs to be considered, for instance: how will the font look on desktop as opposed to mobile phones and tablets? How will the font “hold up” on different screens with different resolutions?

Note that these decisions should be made only after the writing project is completed, not during. The reason for this (general) rule is that it is disadvantageous to juggle typefaces in the middle of the writing process (regardless of the content of the project) given that in doing so one’s attention will be regularly split between the narrative under-construction and the peculiarities of the font and how they match or are found to be discontinuous with the themes or style of the project. That being said, it is best to pick one font and commit to it throughout the entirety of the text-work so as to mitigate aesthetic distractions, renovating the design of the text and making it internet “friendly,” (or offline program “friendly”) only after it is complete whereupon a considerable amount of time will have been saved.

Fiction Writer’s Compendium: Middle English

Below is a resource for writers, consisting of dozens of Middle English words paired with their modern-day equivalent meanings. The list is not meant to be exhaustive of all Middle English. If there are any words you wish me to add to the list, feel free to contact me and let me know (Middle English to the left, current English to the right broken by ‘-‘).


al, or, al be that – though

als – as

anon – at once

artow – art thou, thou art

atte – at, at the

aventure – chance

axe – ask

ay – always

been – are

bet – better

beth – are; (imperative) be

brenne – burn but,

but if – unless

can, kan – know, be able

canstow – can you, you can

cas – happening, chance

certes – surely, certainly

clepe (n) – call

clerk – scholar

cokewold – cuckold

coy – quiet

ech – each

echo (o) n – each one

eek, eke – also

er, or – before; formerly

everich – every; every one

fay, fey – faith

forthy – therefore

fro – from

gan, gonne – began

hastow – have you, you have

hem – them

here – her

hight – named, called

him lest (list) – he wants

hir (e) – her, their

ich – I

ilke – same

kan – know, know how to; can

konne – learn; know how to; can

koude – knew; knew how to; could

kynde – nature

lasse – less

le (e) ve – dear

lite – little

lystes – jousting or tilting fields; enclosed grounds for formal combat

maistow, maystow – may you, you may

make – mate, husband, make

mo – more

moot – may, must, ought to; so (also, ever) moot I: as I hope to

morewe – morrow, morning

mowe – may

muche – much, many

nam – am not, namo, namoore, no more

nas – was not

nat – not

nathelees – nevertheless

ne – not, nor

nere – were not

nolde – would not

nones, nonys – occasion

noon – none, no

noot – know not

nyce – foolish

nys – is not

o, oo, on, oon, that oon – one

of – of; off

pardee: (lit. “by God”), a common oath – certainly

prime, pryme – 9 A.M.

quod – said

rakel – rash

rathe – early, soon

rede – advise; interpret; read

seistow – you say

sely – innocent, simple

seyde – said

seye – say

shaltow – you shall

sikerly – certainly, surely, truly

sith – since; then

somdel – somewhat

sooth, soothfastnesse, sothe – truth

swich – such

syn – since

than (ne) – then, than

thilke – this, that, at that

tho – those; then

tweye – two

unnethe – scarcely

unwemmed – undefiled

verray – true, veritable

wantrust – distrust

wene, -eth – think, thinks

whylom – once, once upon a time, formerly

wight – person, thing

yaf – gave

ycleped – named

ye – eye

yeve, -en, -est, -eth – give, given

ynogh – enough

ywis – surely, certainly

On Dialogic Consistency In Fiction

If, in your fiction writing, you can describe something in but a single word, sentence or paragraph, but choose instead to write in excess of the requisite amount for the task-to-hand, pause to consider precisely why. There are, sometimes, good reasons for writing in excess of the amount for the task-to-hand, but if due consideration of the reason(s) for the length of one’s writing is not paid, one places oneself in danger of waxing unduly wordy and this, in turn, can entail a whole host of additional problems (such as the inducement of bordem to the reader through repition, given that the more you describe a single, discrete thing, the more likely you are to repeat yourself and at a certain point this becomes superfluous; for instance, there are only so many ways to describe the roundness of a ball and, generally speaking, a limited need to do so).

One example of such a exception would be what I term dialogic consistency, by which I mean: writing in keeping with the verbal style of a particular character (such as a loquacious individual). The principal of dialogic consistency can best be described by an illustration; let us turn our attention to the cover image, which contains two figures, from left to right: a chic woman and a suave man, respectively. Let us call them Stacy and Sven and let us further flesh out the characters by attributing to Stacy a extremely loquacious, easily-distracted and gossipy turn and to Sven, let us attribute the faculties of precision and focus in combination with an extreme stoicism. In this example, when writing both of these characters in conversation, from the above descriptions alone, one would write Stacy in a far more wordy and talkative way (because Sven is by nature, reserved).

The best test of a writer’s dialogic consistency can be found in whether or not the reader can differentiate characters in conversation by their dialogue alone (without the writer telling the reader who is speaking, either directly or indirectly). Let us use Stacy and Sven to illustrate.

“Oh, hey, hey, come here – I almost forgot to tell you. Kelly is pregnant. I know right. Totally out of the blue. But Joey doesn’t know so… don’t tell him or anything. Ok?”

“My lips are sealed.”

“Ok, good, so anyways… Why do you look so glum?”

“I don’t like keeping secrets.”

Now from this brisk exchange alone, after some comparative study, we must determine whether or not the most average of readers would be able to pick out which speaker is Stacy and which is Sven. As you likely were able to tell, the first speaker is Stacy and the second is Sven; this process will, of course, be made easier on less discerning readers in a lengthier text where the speakers are referred to (at least once) before speaking, in some variation of the form: Stacy, whirled around around the corner, squealing with glee, “Oh, hey, hey… etc”.

Texni Circular, 9/28/18

Presented below is a collection of individuals — past and present — who have made significant contributions to the knowledge pool (directly or indirectly) of human suzerainty and whose works are, for this reason, worthy of further attention and study.

Aaron Traywick (1989-2018) — Founder of Ascendance Biomedical. A prominent life-extension activist. Sought to democratize access to experimental medical enhancements, such as gene therapy. A proponent of Metformin (Glucophage) and the genome editing tool, CRISPR-cas9, which is presently the simplest and most precise method of gene manipulation yet devised. You can listen to a fascinating interview with the late Mr. Traywick from the excellent Future Grind podcast here.

Aubrey de Gray — Biomedical gerontologist and cryonist. Coinded the term SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) in addition to creating the Methuselah Foundation and the SENS Research Foundation as well as AgeX Therapeutics.

Craig Venter — American biochemist. Instrumental in sequencing the human genome. His team was the first to successfully transfect a cell with a synthetic chromosome.

George Church — PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology. Prof of genetics at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard and MIT. Director of the Personal Genomes Project (personalgenomes.org). Developed methodology for first genome sequence. Co-founder of the BRAIN Initiative (2011), a open-access medical database. Extracted wooly-mammoth genes via CRISPR-cas9.

Gennady Stolyarov, II — Writer, composer and the current Chair of the American Transhumanist Party. Mr. Stolyarov is the author of Death Is Wrong (2013), which is, in so far as I am aware, the first radical life-extension children’s book ever written.

“Embrace the technological fight against death and decay.” — G. Stolyarov II

Kim Eric Drexler — American engineer. A well-known popularizer of the groundbreaking potential of molecular nanotechnology.

Elizabeth Parrish — Founder of BioViva, a Washington-based biotechnology company, specializing on anti-aging treatments. BioViva bears the distinction of being the first company to treat aging in humans via gene therapy. Parrish was the patient zero for two experimental gene therapies which began in 2015 that showed success after only six months wherein her telomeres (which had been shorter than usual for her age) lengthened from 6.71 kilobases to 7.33 kilobases.

“We live in a golden age of technology, yet little is accessible and affordable to the general population, due to lack of knowledge, safety data and a general perception that aging cannot be helped, that this is how life should end.

I refuse to subscribe to this complacency. I refuse to allow humanity not to benefit from the breakthrough scientific discoveries in the anti-aging field. I am not talking about cosmetics, but about whole body rejuvenation at cellular level.”

— Elizabeth Parrish, 2018.

Martine Rothblatt — Co-founder of Sirius XM. After her daughter was diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension she moved into the field of biotechnology. Her experimental facility in Blackburn, Virginia in is the world’s largest cloner of pigs.

Richard Browning — English businessman and inventor. Founder of Gravity Industries and creator of a 59 lb fully-functional one man flight-suit that is controlled through modulation of bracer-thrusters affixed to the arms. The suit is presently available for public purchase in the UK.

Ghost Raven Research — Elucidating fraud in biotech is every bit as important as making advancements therein and thus, though Ghost Raven Research is not a technology innovator, they are worthy of mention for exposing the Theranos/Enron-styled fraud of the pharmaceutical bio-similar company Celltrion Inc. in 2016. Celltrion’s shady accounting practices were so egregious that it was reported on by the Wall Street Journal and numerous other outlets prior to the GRR report. As a consequence of GRR’s report on the company, the financial fraud of Celltrion Inc. was exposed to a even wider audience.

Ryan O’Shea — American businessman and the founder of Future Grind and the host of its flagship podcast. O’Shea is also a spokesman and adviser to the open-source biotech startup, Grindhouse Wetware.

Theodore Berger — Cognitive scientist and biomedical researcher. His work revolves around facilitation and restoration of cognitive function in the primate prefrontal cortex by a neuroprosthesis that utilizes minicolumn-specific neural firing.

William (Bill) Henry Andrews — American molecular biologist who has dedicated his life to finding a cure for human aging. Much of his work focuses upon human telomere extension. Founder and president of biotech corporation, Seirra Sciences, LLC.

Zoltan Istvan Gyurko — American transhumanist and futurist political activist. Author of the sci-fi novel, The Transhumanist Wager (2013). Launched the Uganda-based BiZoHa orphanage project in 2015. As of 2017, Istvan joined the Libertarian Party. Lives in Mill Valley, California.


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Fiction Circular 8/24/18

WEEKLY FICTION | compiled by KAITER ENLESS


FLASH FICTION

Over at The Dark Netizen, several pieces of flash fiction most notably, Lights In The Water. I’ll be perfectly frank that most flash fiction feels under developed; too airy for public consumption. Simply writing something should not predispose one to put it up for others to read. However, Netizen’s excellent piece baffles expectations with a emotional twist ending. Some much from so little! Also from the Dark Netizen, No Entry, another (very) short piece.

We’ll certainly be interested to see what he can do with longer works where he has more time to build upon characters and themes.

The Story Hive published, The Weight Curse, a short tale about a haunting, tea and, as the title suggests, a curse. Certainly seems like good groundwork for a more elaborate and detailed story.


SHORT STORIES

Longshot Press has a fascinating and sad story entitled Lawrencium by Liz Kellebrew. As I have stated before and will continue to state well into the future, the beginning of any story is the most important part, for if you fail to capture a reader’s attention at the first, they will read no further and then it will not matter how interesting or well-developed the rest of the story. This is a principal Ms. Kellebrew has taken to heart for her story begins, “There was a giant jellyfish in the St. Lawrence River-” I’m hooked already (Why is jellyfish? How is jellyfish? What does it mean?!).

Recommended and the Logos pick for Best Of The Week.

You can find more of Kellebrew’s work at her website: lizkellebrew.com

Speaking of jellyfish, Jellyfish Review has a peculiar story entitled Dump Truck by Robert Long. The plot follows a pig who is observed getting aroused by trash; I’ll not say it is a pleasant read but there is a clever metaphor here that I shant spoil for the prospective reader.

Terror House Mag has a fantastic story this week in The Crowman by Charlie Chitty. Something like a fusion of The Crow and The Mothman Prophecies. It would have been our pick for best of the week but it, far too often violates the dictum: Show don’t tell. That being said, it is still well worth reading. TerrorHouse senior editor Glahn’s darkly hilarious White Dwarf is also well worth a read (even if you aren’t big on fiction, take a gander at the cover image). If we gave out a Most Bizarre Of The Week award, White Dwarf would easily be top contender. You can find Glahn’s Twitter here.

X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine published a excerpt from Drift by Chris Campanioni, entitled Born Under Punches.

“As a rule, I strive for lucidity in loneliness-“

Drift stands out for its stylistic uniqueness, a Delilloesque stream of consciousness which conveys speed and emotional intensity. It is only a excerpt and for this reason can not be evaluated of its own accord given that it is meant to be read as a part of a much larger piece. We can however say that it certainly accomplished its promotional goal; we’re quite interested in reading the full text upon release.


NOVELLAS & NOVELS

I have started going through my old stack of paperbacks and discovered some treats which I had either never read or never finished. One of those I had finished but only read once was the tepidly received Hannibal Rising (2006, Delacorte) by Thomas Harris. Reading it through a second time I liked it much better. Even if it is fairly scattershot and a little too sparse in sections (especially as concerns Hannibal’s uncle), it is stylistically, my favorite Harris novel.

“Night heron revealed

By the rising harvest moon –

Which is lovelier?”

Hannibal Rising, p. 145.


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Fording The Liminal Sea

The information fields are vast. Let us go a’harvesting! Raise up your scythes loyal comrades and follow me into the field! A field of dataflows from which we will construct our dreams. Phantasmagorical spaces open up the doors of hitherto unthought possibility, untapped potential. Free-flying we leap from the precipice, heedless of the danger. Careless to consequence. Trifles all. So what if we’ve not wings to slow the fall, the void is endless, surely we’ve time to construct Icarus’ facsimiles upon the way! Oh you may smile. Smile, but smile seriously!

We shall not gently tap upon the chamber walls of those greedy cretins who lock away the treasures we seek behind their cobwebish firewalls, the refuge of the gov-orgs and sovcorps who shuttered away their endless piles of white papers and market analytics, tucked securely down the memory hole like Smaug’s golden coins. No, we shall not tap, we shall kick in their portals and take it by force! Theft? Well naturally, it is just that we do not shirk form stealing from thieves! Who, after all, mourns the death of a cruel murderer?

Pay no mind to the naysayers, those who say of our great and goodly work, “It’s all pointless,” or more ridiculously, “It isn’t even real, none of it matters,” if that were really true they might as well save their labored breath and rabid frenzied slathering and disconnect from the ether. Second life belongs to those who will claim it and those who will claim it will be those who treat it with the seriousness it is so rightly due. So off with their heads! Hack and slash, hack and slash; let’s stomp them into the dirt! The naysayers and all who follow them and all who stand in our way. None shall deter us from the harvesting. Information being the prize of our labor, of our valiant, ceaseless toil. There is nothing so precious, not even love can compete, for it garners its life-blood from the fractal-flow of the liminal sea.

The click and the soothing blue glow that emanate from the sea’s surging depths are the flames of the future, the grid-lines and power-wires, the gates, moats and portcullises of our age. There is a reason that no modern military is without a cyber defense force; even nuclear weapons pale before the power of the web. But a web axiomatically requires a spider to spin it. Oh yes, we see them. We acknowledge them. Their time slipping. Days which we number with delightful expectation; we are as Edmond Dantès, numbering his days of imprisonment with rock-etchings upon our dungeon walls; the spiders, nothing more than Armand Dorleac with all his nihilistic cackling. Keep laughing. The frigid waters await you. Plunged down by our strong and calloused hands, we’ll go a’tumbling into the icy void. When the ripples still there will be nothing but the shifting of liquid before we, alone, emerge, baring forth all your hidden bounty in our arms and gracing the constellation with our gay and pearly smiles. Chateau D’If is ours now and we will not, as might be heroically expected, tear it apart brick by brick in some futile symbolic gesture of evil conquered, what a waste of time that would be! No, instead, we shall turn it into our central terminus, our bio-hub, the cerebral train-station from which we shall build bridges and loops and tunnels across the whole ambit of the world and far far beyond it!

Highways to superhighways, of information, from and underneath and above the raging waters. We shall drain the whole of the ocean dry, down to the deepest trench if needs must. Why, before our ceaseless and unyielding procession of busy-bodied and wrathful treasure hunters even Poseidon shall bend the knee! All hail the new lords of the data mine and the web-land-freed. With sails electric and minds of fire, scythes of steel and wills unbending, we ford the waters of the liminal sea.

Anthropomorphization: Ward & Executioner, Prt 2

In Anthropomorphization: Ward & Executioner, Prt 1, I attempted to show how important the innate impulse to anthropomorphize non-living entities was by contrasting its best (predatory detection) and worst (blaming non-living things for the havoc of conscious malevolence and thus neglecting the true culprit) aspects. I would now like to investigate the ways in which feckless anthropomorphization influences broader social systems and how it gives rise to, and sustains, various secular orthodoxies.

It is a common misconception among Liberals, Centrists and Progressives in the west, that only religious individuals map a consciousness onto the ordering of the world to better explain its manifold aspects. However, this is quite manifestly false, as even the most “open-minded” and progressive of egalitarian secularists hold to a system of dogmas, scriptures, rituals and traditions which in its structure (though not in its explicit doctrinal values) bears striking similarities to that of the old monotheistic religions.

Take the Green Peace Movement, for example. Here is a group whose mission statement is to, “-ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its [bio]diversity.” [1] One can see the confusion inherent in the sentence nearly instantly, for what does it mean for “The Earth to nurture life?” The unconscious framing is that The Earth’s purpose or goal is to care for all its inhabitants like Mother Gaia from Captain Planet. A loving, nurturing and caring entity, Green Peace envisions Earth, not as a enormous rock spinning through space that happens to harbor a biosphere, but rather a enormous rock that intended to harbor a biosphere and that is willfully part and parcel of that very system. It is, in this fashion that Green Peace’s ethos begins to sound an awful lot like the NRx conception of Gnon (Nature’s God).

The very excellent and incisive, Kristor of the Orthosphere remarks:

“Nature is nothing without her God. By herself, she is no more than a series of adventitious events, not as a whole ordered to any purpose transcendent to herself – which is to say, not ordered. Except insofar as they are grounded in Eternity and ordered under his Law, events are just stuff happening for no reason, and cannot therefore by themselves sway us authoritatively.”

The summation seems a popular one in reactionary circles, but I find, here and there, faults with the reasoning. First and foremost is that, regardless of whether or not there is a intelligent ordering to the cosmos there are inexorable laws and there is a order to things, or rather, discernible patterns that brook no argumentation; laws which remain consistent and potent regardless of their ultimate derivation. For instance, it matters not, as regards the effecting of Man, whether or not some being causes the seas to churn or the wind to blow, they churn and blow all the same and Man is similarly effected. Also, he remarks that without a “transcendent purpose” the whole of Nature is “not ordered.” This I suppose is true in that for something to be “ordered” a conscious agent must do the ordering. But it seems to me that he is referring to consistency of structure rather than agency – if this is the case then one might simply posit that there is no reason to suppose that Eternal Laws require conscious writ. Additionally, such a universal ordering would deprive Man of the ability to direct the nature of the Cosmos insofar as he was able, such a venture would be heretical and roundly scorned as hubristic insanity – “How dare you play God!” One might well remark, “To the man that wishes for the grandest possible game, what else is there to play?”

Ultimately, GNON is simply a esoteric stepping stone that the orthodox-faithful Christians utilize in a veiled attempt to convert the questioning and opened minded. This is not to say that it is useless (indeed, it is a marked boon for the Christian Traditionalist) but for those, such as myself, who are possessed of a more terrestrially-centered and empirically demanding outlook, it rings to the tune of self-imbued anthropomorphization (contrary to the unconscious anthropomophization of the conversationalist Envirocrats).

I note these assertions and interjections to show you the congruence between the monotheistic conception of Nature and their Green Peace contemporaries. Man, within this schema, is ultimately insignificant to the vastness of space, even the meager oceans dwarf him – scale gains inordinate importance and drowns out all other attributions until it becomes something of a idee-fixe. The Cosmos is so BIG and man is so SMALL – thus he must be insignificant! Bow to the root and vine, kiss the soil and bless the sky! Thy selfsame meaning, lost therein!

I’ll none of it. This philosophy is a thief! If you think I’m waxing melodramatic then let us return to the maxim on Greenpeace‘s website:

Greenpeace will never stop fighting for a greener, healthier world for our oceans, forests, food, climate, and democracy—no matter what forces stand in our way.

As you can see they are not fighting “for you” or even for anything as abstract as “Mankind” they are fighting for oceans, for forests, for democracy (as if that were liken to the other two)! No mention of human flourishing, no mention of human control, no mention of the unique importance of conscious creatures or their singular ability to generate meaning – all for the water and the trees and thy bureaucratic injunctions!

Before proceeding, I want to make clear that I am not wholly equating the ontology of GNONists with the ontology of Greenpeace, but one can not deny a striking number of similarities. Foremost among them – Purity of the “Natural.” For members of Greenpeace, and most other political environmental movements since the 1960s (and a few well before), for that matter, green growing things and democracy are conducive to the “healthy” state of man. Autocracy and skyscrapers are perversions, cancerous blights upon the world and not just aesthetically but in some kind of deep-seated psychologically harmful sense – a quasi-spiritual sense. Here the, what one might call for brevity’s sake, Envirocrats, have developed their own Original Sin mythos, strikingly similar to the orthodox Christian who seek to reel in the unsuspecting naturalist with their lengthy, sometimes obtuse, discourse on the essence of GNON. Both posit that the world was a healthier place before the arrival of man (at least in the Christian inspired variation of GNONism – i.e. Garden of Eden, Fall of Man – though there are exceptions), that most foul and perverted of beasts, who, through his insatiable ambitions, spread the blight of the coal factory and shopping mall far and wide and, through his thriving, spat upon the altar of the deity. Nevermind the benefits, you’ve displaced the flowers!

Though deity, here, for the GNONist, is, sometimes a literal one, sometimes a figurative placeholder, the deity for the Environmentalist is a impulsive, implicit instance of unconscious anthropomorphization. Despite the variables, the typical outcome is much the same; that being a largely non-human (and in many cases, outright anti-human) philosophy.

The truth of this assertion is well attested to by the constant mantra of the Envirocrat: “We need to lessen human impact for the good of the planet!” Carbon footprints, fuel usage, deforestation, destruction of grand geological formations for the creation of more human-friendly habitats – all such actions are, in their eyes, suicidal motions. Suicidal not to Collective Humanity but to The Earth upon which they live! Envirocrat doctrine then does not champion the control of the environment but rather a poorly defined notion of “harmony” with it. If the end goal is to “lessen” human impact as much as possible then the philosophy, when carried to its logical extremis, terminates at the formulation of a world without humanity at all.

One of my more pop-savvy readers might recall the scene in the film Watchman where Dr. Manhattan looks out across the vast and barren surface of Mars and remarks that the planet would not be be somehow improved by the addition of a shopping mall. God-like though he might be he fails horribly as some rather entry-level reasoning, namely, a planet, in no discernible wise, can want anything, not even its own improvement. A planet is a rock a big one, generally with molten core, but a rock all the same.

The GNONists are far wiser in this regard, rightly understanding that some kind of perfect “harmony” with nature is impossible. To quote the Orthosphere’s Kristor once more,

“The world is dangerous, or it is nothing.”

Quite so. Yet the GNONist still see Nature as something that should not be too much tampered with, for it is God’s garden and he who runs there afoul invokes His wrath. But if such dire invocation is the necessary price that needs be paid in the pursuit of man’s upward ascent and dispersal into the grand ambit of space and from there to other worlds and other pursuits far beyond our present understanding, I say, so be it!

Anthropomorphization: Warden & Executioner, Prt 1

Consider the following.

  • The internet is making people less intelligent.
  • Violent video games make people violent.
  • Gun prevalence causes mass shootings.

A discerning reader will instantly realize a single commonality, namely, the imposition of agency onto non-agents. But then, what is an agent? We might define it here for our purposes as a conscious entity – that which is aware that it itself is aware of it being aware of its own awareness. Furthermore, a agent thinks and has intent, they are causal forces of will. Here then arises a problem, one that is suitably encapsulated by the bullet-pointed list provided above – how can a gun or a video game or the internet or political rhetoric cause any given individual to do something or rather, anything at all.

They can’t. For they are not causal agents. Rather, a given individual reacts to outside stimuli and is thus shaped by such reactions. “Guns kill people!” is, in essence, a very different statement than, “Guns make people kill people!” The problem with guns (obvious though it may be) is not that guns make people homicidal but rather that any given individual who fails to resist some internal impulse to slaughter now has a medium upon which to paint their bloody visions that is far more effective than a knife or sword (generally speaking). The real world consequences of such a notion are so obvious and endemic that I scarcely think they require elaboration. But just for good measure I shall elaborate nonetheless by further examining the previously mentioned example: Guns.

Due to the belief that guns are primarily responsible for school shootings (as if they were possessed of some dire malevolence), there has been a notable uptick in firearm restrictions within the United States of America, the principal ensign of which being the “Gun-free zone.” The problem with gun-free zones is that they have had the precise opposite effect that was intended.

Now, for those whom have payed no mind to any current affairs for the past couple of decades or their selfsame surroundings, a “gun-free zone” refers loosely to any public or private arena wherein guns are explicitly banned. Most schools, for instance, are a prime example of a gun-free zone (though sometimes allowances are made for the armaments of trained security personnel). Simple. The idea behind such places is similarly simple and as follows: If there are less guns there will be less shootings, if there be less shootings then there will be less harm and if less be the harm then more be the good.

This idea, when put to practice, turns out to have backfired (see what I did there) however, as is evidenced by a recent study from the CPRC (Crime Prevention Research Center). The Center’s study shows that contrary to popular belief, gun-free zones put the general citizenry at an elevated risk of violence due to the fact that, from the 1950’s through July 10th of 2016, 98.4 percent of mass shootings have occurred within gun-free zones, exclusively. The sum is truly staggering and is but one of many examples of the earth shattering applications of impulsive, unchecked anthropomorphization. Consider it, the pathological belief that guns kill people has, in no uncertain terms, actually killed people.

What is difficult about this issue is that it sneaks up upon one as might some fell kheft, shaded and soundless. But be not confused – the impulse to imbue the un-living and naturally occurring with some form of malevolent intent is not the sole dispensation of the crazed or the intellectually stunted, but of everyone – who, after all, has not felt the hairs raise upon the back of the neck and the blood beat in the heart liken to some madman’s drum when some nameless thing beyond ones placing went bump in the night? The prevalence of this strange impulse is not manifestly obvious but there are some theories which make sense of it.

The most popular of these theories may be derived from evolutionary psychology and is what I have taken to calling the “Warden Theory of Anthropomorphization,” which may alternatively be described more precisely, but less stylistically, as a Subservient Hypothesis of Anthropomorphization (SAH – which we shall use from this point on). The theory holds that our innate proclivity to imbue maleficence to the shaking of a shrub comes from a cost-benefit analysis of predator evasion. For example, if you notice something move out of the corner of your eye and you jump and it turns out to only be the wind shaking a bush, you have leapt in vain but expended a minuscule amount of energy. If, however, you jump and it happened to be a poisonous snake, then your instincts just saved your life. The converse is that you do not leap, ever. In this case, if the bush shakes and it is nothing then you expend no energy – maximal bodily efficiency – but if it shakes and it is a poisonous snake you are dead. You can then see how a body might adapt to best evade potential fatalities by mapping potential danger-agents onto the world, regardless of whether they exist or not. The theory is “subservient” biologically speaking because it refers to a adaptation which is shared by individuals but not necessarily the collective (the converse of which would be a supervenient adaptation).

The secondary theory is what I have taken to calling the Supervenient (Emergent) Theory of Anthropomorphization (ETA). A supervenient process, in contrast to SAH Theory), is one which the collective possesses but which the individual does not. Issam Sinjab of the University of Sussex describes the process thusly:

An emergent property is a property which a collection or complex system has, but which the individual members do not have. A failure to realize that a property is emergent, or supervenient, leads to the fallacy of division. 

In chemistry, for example, the taste of saltiness is a property of salt, but that does not mean that it is also a property of sodium and chlorine, the two elements which make up salt. Thus, saltiness is an emergent or a supervenient property of salt. Claiming that chlorine must be salty because salt is salty would be an example of the fallacy of division.

The ETA hypothesis asserts that the perception-mapping of human-like behaviors in non-human entities arose as a emergent property caused by the increasing interplay of various different modules of the human brain as archaic man transitioned to modern man. The theory was first laid out by Steven Mithen in his landmark book The Prehistory of the Mind. Though it should perhaps here be noted that though Mithen believed that the ETA theory of anthropomorphization began as a emergent enterprise, he also believed it ended as one which had become subservient to human fitness and thus indispensable which attests to the interplay of both theories as they are not, necessarily, mutually exclusive (though some evolutionary theorists dispute this).

At any rate, I trust that the reader is now developing a picture of how biologically deep-seated the impulse to impart human-like agency upon non-human agents is within human nature itself. To extract it is neither desirable nor, at this juncture, possible, but cognizance of it is and self-cognizance of such “red-alerts” in one’s being might very well be the difference between life and death but no longer in the fashion nature had intended.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and happy Yule tidings!

I’d like to wish all of my readers the very best this season and in the year to come. Thank you, also, for your continued readership. The site is growing much quicker and garnering far more views than I would ever have anticipated. Several new writers will soon be joining the LC line-up, so the year ahead strikes me as most promising.

So have a wonderful holiday season and a very, very happy new year!