~ Closing in on the ‘bastards’.
Willie Nelson is one of the better songsters about, he is of the spirit and generation of Buddy Holly; the difference is that he lived, it is “all the difference”. His “voice” is one of sincerity, something often forgotten in the music world (meaning a ‘value’ lost). He was on NPR the other evening, an interview; he raised his voice in the rising tide of voices that question the “2 planes and 3 towers” theory of 9-1-1 (the emergency “call” number) that is also a date on the calendar.
Willie’s voice is ageing now; his added voice (of alarm) may not topple the Empire, but his added voice will not hurt (the cause of the ‘cogs’). “Cog to cog”, a metaphor for the “Empire”, each cog meshes and moves (on), messages shared and met and passed on to a new ‘messenger’ (a new cog); the wheels of “industry and empire” turn and with each turning wheel the wheel is slowly stopped; ground down by the “wearing” of the wheel, science against science, inhumanity against humanity, one “dying or failed” cog liberating fifty or a hundred unfailed cogs still bound to the wheel, but no longer “bound to work”.
Mr. Nelson was the real “father knows best”; Mr. Willie Nelson, never on TV really, he writes his own scripts, not a Hollywood “match”. His music is good to write to (no fan club thing, I’m talking “background” music here). Everything has two meanings; so I guess I might explain a bit about the above and earlier paragraph. “My” car is in the shop; it “died”. Cars are like cats, multiple lives until one fast move too many and “bing”, its the final death; it outlives the value of replacement parts or the computer track record of “Autowreck dot Com” rebuild it ploys. Like with humans, one never “knows” when the end is near or over; looking back it’s often fairly obvious, forward “not so much”.
The car is 10 years old now, which is a lot like being ten years old in “horse years”, on the theory that cars are a lot like horses and have “horse power” if not “horse sense”. A horse can get a driver (or rider) home safely after a night of drinking or a bad accident, a car can’t. I guess this is why “industry and empire” prefer cars to horses when it comes to humans and the unraveling of ‘humanity’ as a value. The “Four Horsemen” of the apocalypse is a myth, written by industrialists in an effort to besmirch horses and horsemanship. The real “Four Horsemen” are automobiles (probably Hummers); red Hummer, pale Hummer; you get my point, war and death and disease and the ruin of a wasted life; not like Willie or Buddy, not like “Cogs that are Cognizant”.
My car is a modern car, no cogs per se, but wheels just the same. There are four on the ground (touching, spinning, traction forward or tracting in reverse). There are five more that I hadn’t noticed (it’s often the things that one doesn’t notice that break (first)). They are called “pulleys”, located on the back of the motor (engine) under a dark black plastic cover. Three of these wheels are plastic, two are metal; the two plastic ones “died”, “designed to wear” (by GM) according to the mechanic. He didn’t bother to explain that “wear” to GM means “wear out” and not “wear on” like it used to mean at Levi Strauss and Company when they were still only a local San Francisco company dedicated to humanity and human needs and not to “Empire”.
“Cog” is a reality and a metaphor. Originally it was the “tooth” of a wheel that with each other tooth combined to give a wheel traction when placed against another wheel; each cogged wheel could transfer “energy” from a point of production to a point of need; or from a point of need to a point of production (in the case of industry). Each cog was necessary to keep each wheel turning. A wooden shoe was a “spanner”, wedge a shoe into the cogs and the wheels stopped; revolution and revolutionary act, barefoot workers might be executed until soft shoes of plastic (or leather) could be made to keep the empire’s wheels turning. Ballet is never revolutionary, toe shoes are too soft.
Each necessary part (of a machine) became to be known as a cog. In my case, each pulley is a cog. One broke, which created greater pressure on the next, which broke and then #3 broke and for the want of three plastic wheels (with a value of $30) the whole car was “broke”. A $5,000 car (low mileage) was stopped “dead” by a $30 loss, rendered incapable of consuming $102 a barrel (oil) gasoline from gas stations. Thank you GM. But GM built this car to make GM money (it is an “Empire” approach to life). GM wants $500 for the three plastic pulley part replacements (I kid you not). Each part has a patent (of course) so one cannot be competitive in buying parts, replacing parts, finding new parts.
Of course the car will not be worth more (than it was before it “broke”) with this $500 of “value” added. The “secret” (for GM) is science. Things can be made to break (scientifically), use plastic not metal, thinner metal, make things susceptible to dust (like computers and cellphones), or heat, or cold. Like a cog in a wheel; each part will ‘break’ some day, after it has lasted as long as it was designed (scientifically) to last; as long as it was “predicted” (statistically) to last.
Anyway, to fix the car will cost $1,000 and take a week due to GM not caring about carrying parts and wanting desperately for every smart person to buy only Toyota type cars in the future. The cost includes a little labor, a little shipping, a little tax, and after awhile a little adds up to be a lot (and there is also a small oil leak to be “fixed”). I would love a horse, no insurance, intelligent; my City (like yours) makes them illegal as practical transportation in the city (horses are “too” green, no profit for GM and insurance companies, no dehumanizing force of Empire, no freedom). Be warned world, the American Empire wants you, there is no real freedom in America, just narrow product “purchasing options”.
Now that the “base” has been established that is the basis of this post I can move on. A lot of writers, a lot of people are on to the “Empire” (theme) now. There is a realization that there is a “force of consciousness” that has tried to hijack human consciousness and the human reality into creating some type of “machine” or scientifically based “mechanism” out of the life experience that has little or nothing to do with “life”, at least “human” life. It is axiomatic to say that there is no value to science, scientific discovery, scientific exploration, or scientific thought. Any “prejudice” toward science is a “value judgement”, which is inherently contrary to “pure science” (in its modern conceptualization).
Lewis Mumford (The Pentagon of Power, Harcourt, Brace etc. circa 1970), as an older writer writing in the 1960’s envisions the Empire (of circa 2008) as a “megamachine” phenomena. He postulates Empire as a machine (not as electronics, electronic symbolism being non-intuitive and largely not understood is hard to covert to metaphorical analogy). He points out that machines are only useful when perceived as being “other than life”. He proposes a world struggling between life and non-life, between man and his machines, frankenstein monsters without the appeal of Frankenstein, created by some “bad dream” of necessity or advantage that have come to be only too real in their daylight influence. He expands the vision of Rod Serling (in regard to machines) into a societal (whole society) construct.
Mumford is not alone in correlating the relationships between changing “energy” sources (and quantity) with “machine growth” or the “growth of the machine”. He is also not alone in pointing out that scientific “valueless-ness” is antithetical to the uniquely human quality of “evaluation”; making “value judgements” and “moral assessments” are inherently the weave and the warp of life; life is not so much just the “transformations of energy”. It is the “quality” of energy that inherently trumps the quantity of energy. This fact is intuitive to the organic person and counter-intuitive to those that build nuclear reactors and nuclear bombs.
Mumford makes the case that the Empire is a megamachine that relies heavily on inanimate (low quality) energy sources to create a multiplicity of dehumanizing machines that inherently dehumanizes the human experience. Dehumanized humans in turn are incorporated by the megamachine as mechanical cogs to keep the Empire running and progressing to no end, other than to demonstrate the actualized potential of the ultimate ascendancy of the machine over the “human spirit”.
There are of course those that enjoy the experience of “machines running people”, rather than “people running machines”. Television and advertising is an obvious example. Automobile ownership is often another excellent example. When a machine breaks it must be replaced. Machines are used to eradicate people (war); seldom do people act to eradicate machines. As a result the machines are winning, the planet is being “paved over” and “wired” to enable the “life of machines”, not the evaluation process of intelligent life. Machines need (inanimate) energy sources. Animal life needs organic energy. It seems that Mumford’s point has a point.
To demonstrate this point more succinctly I borrow from “The Red Fort” (James Leasor, 1956, Reynal). The book is about the “Sepoy Uprising” of 1857 envisioned to free India of the manifold abuses of the Brit Empire. Among other demonstrations of Empire consciousness the Brits would line their dining rooms with statuesque Indian males in well-tailored colonial garb with the sole intent and function of being “room ornamentation”; a demonstration that human beings (of some types) were only valuable as “curiosities” or “possessions”. How different is today’s Empire in its attitudes?
The megamachine (assuming that it exists) is dependant upon its human component acting at all times without any discernable or evident humanity. Each “job” is a human cog element, a human being functioning largely as a machine part, ignoring the damage done by the “machine as a whole” and by so doing making the damaging effects possible. I propose the emergence of “Cognitive Cogs”; people that function with ever greater frequency as “people”, as human beings, as moral arbitrators and evaluators, as individual humans capable of making “value judgements” early and often in the course of each days work. When each “cog” sees oneself as an “employee” this is by definition impossible. “Employee” means working in the role of a machine, a renouncing of the human option or mandate.
But we live in the world of “associates”, partners in the progress of each ‘business’ or ‘government’ activity. An associate is more like an “entrepreneur”, an owner of a business or a government enterprise that “takes ownership” of full responsibility for the business and of the business and of all consequences pertinent to the existence of the business. There is no need to “explain or train” others, employees are seldom well-trained and certainly have little relevant to their role truthfully explained. The purpose of each cognitive cog is to learn and evaluate and act as a human actor in a moral manner in each instance that seems to demand a moral decision. The evaluation is up to this “new entrepreneur” alone; as the (perhaps) only human component in an otherwise a-moral machine (or machine type environment).
A truly human “cog” (cognitive cog) will always “stop to question”, will always seek to direct the ‘machine’ to a new and often unknown higher purpose, will seek out other humans behaving in a human manner and will quietly ignore humans behaving like machines (or room ornaments). A machine cannot be self-conscious. A human being must be actively self-aware to remain human and sane. Moral cohesion is necessary for the existence of personal sanity; some “jobs” really are literally “crazy”. Often it is literally true that “a person would have to be ‘crazy’ to work here”. Think about it, maybe leave. You decide.
There are many models for approaching life on this planet. Empire is the worst one as it is alone totally intolerant of any competing or alternative model. Empire, by its nature, “outlaws” alternative approaches and systems, it claims all the land and claims to be the only “law” (which means nothing more than police, prisons, and the military). One can not be “at war” with Empire without becoming like empire; one must be always “in opposition” however, always moving, always anticipating and creating and creating alternatives or one will die (away from being human).
It is “the waste” that is the hallmark of Empire. Empire wastes time, wastes energy, wastes creativity by consolidating it in the “hands” of a usually undeserving elite. Empire stifles good ideas by promoting and marketing bad ideas. Empire promotes attitudes of exclusion by fighting doctrines of inclusion. Empire teaches false doctrines designed to divide, not unify; to exalt mediocrity and not the subtlety of simple elegance, the beauty of a rain drop, the sanctity of wind.
Have you counted your machines today? Counted how many are “plug-ins”? How many light bulbs do you have plugged in or wired in your dwelling? How many at your place of work? How much energy do you use each year? Do you pay more for inorganic or organic energy; food and wood as opposed to oil and electricity? Of course you do not know the answer; you live in the Empire!
Be aware. Question. Act cognitively. (Stay happy).
[2008.02.27 / Wednesday – Empires & Cogs]