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Thread: Conspiracy Competition. I lay down the gauntlet.

  1. #136

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    He's in Paris with Cath celebrating her birthday. I'm sure he will enjoy your reply on his return, Tea. Everybody else is already buying their beer and pizza for this one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by craner View Post
    He's in Paris with Cath celebrating her birthday. I'm sure he will enjoy your reply on his return, Tea. Everybody else is already buying their beer and pizza for this one.
    I hope they're having a great time and he isn't tempted to check up on us reprobates while he's on holiday.

    And but so. I'm sure he realises I wouldn't have written so much if I didn't care or thought he was some run of the mill internet nutter or anything like that.
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    My interest in conspiracy theory has nothing to do with the extent to which I Ďbelieveí in any given conspiracy theory. I donít consider myself to be a conspiracy theorist although Iíve certainly felt the dark pull of paranoia and I donít underestimate its power, its danger or its seductiveness.

    I do, for what itís worth, believe power to operate conspiratorially to a large extent, and in that sense am able to accept the illuminati, or the reptilians, as broad, crude but functional metaphors to describe the power elite. Power is in some sense a conspiracy against everyone outside of its circle.
    So in that sense, and again we are talking really quite broadly, I believe conspiracy theory captures something about the reality of human society. Groups emerge and rise to dominance and will go to extraordinary lengths to maintain that dominance. What you see enacted in the internal dynamics of organised crime is what is hidden but no less brutal and uncompromising in the internal dynamics of any other hierarchy, be it political, corporate or what have you. There is a huge amount of art that explores this field. A lot of Stanley Kubrick is about this. A lot of The Wire was about this. And of course thereís a ton of scholarly work and investigative journalism you can sift through. The existence of conspiracies, current and historic, is uncontroversial. (as we all agree) I donít believe there to be one overarching group which controls all things. There are, plainly, a number of groups which are hugely powerful, and some or all, of these groups converge around certain shared interests, and collaborate, in secret. Again, this is common knowledge and uncontroversial.

    Societies are machines but much of the moving parts are hidden from view. We are told those parts donít exist but you canít understand how the machine functions just by looking at what is on display. You canít follow cause through to effect. You have to extrapolate, and at some point, due to the amount of obfuscation, lies and misdirection in play, you have to make guesses. James Ellroy novels are about this hidden half of power and how it operates.

    One of the things I find so fascinating about the conspiracy theory culture, is the way it sheds light on the way we fill in the blank spaces of the map. We project our fears and our fantasies onto those blank spaces. Our fears and fantasies are usually tawdry, lurid and irrational but they are ours and seeing them on display is useful, and, to my mind, extremely interesting. The internet is laying bare the collective unconscious and it is as fascinating as it is horrifying. Recoiling from it wonít make it disappear. Repressing it wonít make it go away. These are things which need to be worked through, if I can slip into therapy jargon briefly.

    Nobody, not even the heads of secret services, are working with anything like a full data set. No one can see the full picture. Everybody is groping a different part of the elephant. The way data is assembled into a world view, and how near-identical data inputs can form into radically different world-pictures is, I want to keep using the word fascinating, because it is fascinating. In fact no one is as famously paranoid as the heads of secret services. Read up on them and you will see what I mean.

    I consider it to be hubristic to assume that one has a better grasp on reality than anyone else. This is the basis of my railing against Ďcommon senseí which is just an unwillingness to examine underlying and often unconscious assumptions.

    The news comes down a very small number of pipelines. It is like oil or gas in that regard. And yet people construct such different narratives from that limited amount of Ďraw data.í Why is that? I have no patience for the trite, smug, patronising dismissals of people on this forum. It canít be explained away as easily as youíd like it to be. Itís a real force in our culture (in world culture in fact, not just in the west) and yes, as we have been reading a lot about recently, it has been Ďweaponisedí (to use a vogueish word)

    It helps to understand its allure from the inside. It thrives on the ambiguity of the uncertain and the unknown. You canít wish away this ambiguity. It exists. It is a crucial part of being human and it is amplified by propaganda, by secret services, by the media and so on and so forth. It is a corollary of being able to lie. Horses presumably canít. Humans do, habitually. If you take all official pronouncements at face value you are a naÔf. To feel the biting point of a conspiracy theory, where the alternative presentation of the Ďfactsí (as they are commonly understood) starts to seem as plausible as the official version is essential to grasping the appeal. The vertigo of that. Allowing the anomalies in any account to hold their full force. To be able to be poised in that ambiguity, without toppling, is a useful experience.

    It is the basis of imagination. To turn the wheel of the kaleidoscope and have the particles cohere in a completely new pattern. If you cannot do this, and at will, then you are only partially human. I donít claim that all, or even more than a handful, of conspiracy mongers are terribly imaginative. As I have said, a lot of it is a crude projection of tawdry fears and fantasies. But even in its most debased and tawdry forms there is something very interesting going on. It is very rarely, virtually never, that a conspiracy is made out of whole cloth. It is rather a collective mythos, a patchwork quilt. So you get to see this and trace this, really in real time. The participants build on a number of foundational myths or stories. Why do these take hold? Why does, for example, the ancient astronaut myth resonate? But it does, and the degree of convergence among all proponents of ancient astronaut myth is startling. There is very little divergence from Zecharia Sitchin and von Danniken. The idea is to contribute to a pre-existing universe. In that sense it is like writing for Marvel comics, for example. There has to be some degree of continuity. That collective myth-making and tacit collaboration tells us a lot about how society works. If you can be bothered thinking about these things you can learn from them. Being dismissive and condescending strikes me as the least useful and least interesting of all the possible responses to this stuff. I hope that goes some way to explaining my attitude towards this discussion and why I occasionally lapse into irritability and/or dismissiveness.

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  5. #139
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    the purpose of this thread was to see if it was possible to weave our own thread into that mythos which i thought would be more interesting and educational than rehashing this conversation for the nth time but never mind. i guess people enjoy rehashing this conversation.

  6. #140

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    That perfectly explains why I enjoy Killah Priest so much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by luka View Post
    The existence of conspiracies, current and historic, is uncontroversial. (as we all agree)
    OK, then we are, to an extent, on the same page. It's just a bit odd that you feel the need to contradict me so often and so vociferously when we largely agree on the fundamentals. I wonder if it's mainly a question of language and style rather than content.

    Quote Originally Posted by luka View Post
    The internet is laying bare the collective unconscious and it is as fascinating as it is horrifying.
    Laying it bare, yes, but also playing a huge role in shaping it in the first place - or rather, reshaping it, from one year to the next.

    Quote Originally Posted by luka View Post
    I consider it to be hubristic to assume that one has a better grasp on reality than anyone else. This is the basis of my railing against ‘common sense’ which is just an unwillingness to examine underlying and often unconscious assumptions.
    Now this is where I have to disagree. I don't think it's hubristic for me to think I have a better grasp on reality than someone who thinks global warming is a con perpetrated by the Chinese state, or that vaccines cause autism. I'm happy to accept that there are many things I don't know, and that even that some things I think I know are probably false, but the relativism of worldview you're talking about cannot lead anywhere but madness. I cannot accept that the statement "The Earth is 6,000 years old" is equivalent to, or just as useful, or just as good, as the statement "The Earth is some billions of years old". I don't think "The Earth is flat" is on an equal footing with "The Earth is roughly spherical", or, for that matter, "The Holocaust is a Jewish hoax" is on an equal footing with "The Holocaust was a real event".

    What's interesting is the extent to which this "Nothing is True..." gambit is being used, and with an undeniable degree of success, by forces in world politics - the very real-life conspiracies you allude to - which are overwhelmingly reactionary in nature. This is coming simultaneously from the well-oiled alt-right lie machine that helped put Donald Trump in the White House, and the constant stream of dezinformatsiya emanating from their opposite numbers in the Kremlin and their various fronts and organs. It seems pretty obvious to me that placing some sort of value in empiricism and objective truth is likely to be a good weapon for counteracting all this. You don't have to make it the only thing that matters to you, but at least not dismissing it out of hand might be wise at this point.

    Basically, much of what you've written here rings true, although you lose me again when you go all "if you can't rearrange matter, force and spacetime at will through your Third Eye like I can, then you're not as good as me" - that stuff just reminds me of zhao at his most pompous and risible. It's also ironic given your constant railing against smugness, hubris, condescension and so on, and just makes me want to say physician, heal thyself. (Please don't take that as an attack on imagination per se - just a recognition that it is by amplifying and manipulating the public's imagination that so many conspiracies are perpetrated in the first place, and it's only by causing these lies to snag on the hard, sharp rock of something real that they can eventually be unravelled. You can't fight them just by using your own imagination in the opposite direction.)
    Last edited by Mr. Tea; 15-07-2017 at 07:22 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by luka View Post
    ok
    Oh come on, you could at least post a "didn't real, lol" gif!
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  10. #144
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    i was just depressingly sure i would get a response from you that looked exactly like that one did. lazily quoting huge chunks of text and giving rote responses. it gets me down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by luka View Post
    I do, for what itís worth, believe power to operate conspiratorially to a large extent, and in that sense am able to accept the illuminati, or the reptilians, as broad, crude but functional metaphors to describe the power elite. Power is in some sense a conspiracy against everyone outside of its circle.
    The essay I posted above endorses this pov, and it makes a lot of sense. I agree with it, broadly. I differ - I think I'm largely going to restate what Tea said, only without his scientific orientation.

    I guess where we'd differ is in the attitude towards verifiable truth - I think that someone actually pulled that trigger, dropped that bomb and in some cases, it's possible to uncover who this is. I don't want to be forever "poised in ambiguity" to use your phrase. I want the waveform to collapse and a truth to be uncovered, rather than to hover forever in a cloud of not-knowing. It depends on what your intentions are. I'd like the truth to be told about a number of atrocities and injustices, so I can't rest in an intoxicating "neither/neither" to use Austin Spare's phrase. It depends on what you are committed to, what you've made choices about.

    I agree that conspiracies can be fascinating and yeah, they tell us something about humans, and our weird psychology. But as they increasingly becomes part of what-passes-for normal political discourses my fascination diminishes and my frustration grows.

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    Quote Originally Posted by luka View Post
    the purpose of this thread was to see if it was possible to weave our own thread into that mythos which i thought would be more interesting and educational than rehashing this conversation for the nth time but never mind. i guess people enjoy rehashing this conversation.
    Give it a go then, but I find it hard to think of a political reality weirder than the one we inhabit.

    Have you read Peter Pomerantsev, Luka? You should try and read his "Nothing is True and Everything is Possible". It's about modern Russia, Putin, Russia Today etc. and it gives you a sense of what's it like to actually live in that intellectual vertigo, to be right in the midst of it, and at points, engaged in its manufacture. It's wide-ranging as well, it looks at how this relativism plays out in many areas and what its roots might be.

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    Your post above very much puts me in mind of Pynchon also, esp. Gravity's Rainbow and The Crying of Lot 49. He avoids the final collapse into the real in the latter by ending the narrative. In the former, he avoids it by (literally) ending the narrator. Slothrop fades into non-existence.

  14. #148
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    Quote Originally Posted by luka View Post
    i was just depressingly sure i would get a response from you that looked exactly like that one did. lazily quoting huge chunks of text and giving rote responses. it gets me down.
    I quoted three lines. Feel free to engage with what I've written rather than playing the enlightened-master-wearily-trying-to-educate-a-swineherd role that's surely as rote by now as anything I've put down here.
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    I want the waveform to collapse and a truth to be uncovered, rather than to hover forever in a cloud of not-knowing.
    I'm not disputing the desirability of this so much as I'm pointing out how difficult, and to all practical purposes, impossible in many cases, this actually is, particularly for people (peons) in our position. i think the desire can lead us to reach for certainty when it's not there (and this tendency can be and is exploited by Authority.) it's about the human propensity to lie (and fantasise). this uncertainty is one of the fundamental conditions we operate under. there's a balance of probability of course, and this can stand in perfectly adequately for certainty in most cases.

    the book sounds interesting. i haven't read it and i will buy it whenever it next deigns to manifest itself in a 2nd hand bookshop. i would like to note though that you are concerned with a few very specific cases and something like ancient astronaut theory has (as far as I know) nothing to do with Russian interference in Syria or what have you.

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    Yeah but I'd say, this is how this stuff plays out in the real world. Try and spend an afternoon watching Vanessa Beeley's Youtubes if you want full immersion. Book an exorcism afterwards. On one level, I find all the disiformation stuff completely fascinating - it is like one of the strangest weirdest sci-fi novels ever. But then the grimness of what's been covered up brings me back down again.

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