Saturday, February 03, 2007

Diagnosis: Monkey Disease

I encounter an idea with increasing regularity, often online, or in various print media. It goes something like this: “Man is a walking disease!”.
I believe I first heard the ‘walking virus’ line in a Bill Hicks routine. It’s a sardonic bit, to be sure.It’s where cynicism acquiesces to nihilism, in that moment of abject loathing. I understand that, I can relate. Another Hicks routine has to do with watching CNN for hours straight, blasting warnings of imminent doom: “WAR, DEATH, FAMINE, AIDS! WAR, DEATH,FAMINE, AIDS!” ( We are a disease!) . I understand this sentiment.
I admit this “world-view” is a tempting one.
After all, it is difficult to not be disgusted by the rampant ignorance, violence and apathy that we “witness” daily via mainstream media, like the ten o’clock news, CNN , and through armchair victimization junkies like Oprah ( I say, NOPRAH!). The end of Hicks’ bit has the viewer take a breath and stick his head out the window, only to hear the peaceful sounds of crickets chirping in the night.
It’s a commentary on the scrupulously constructed unreality fed to us by our “trusted news resources”.(Another bit about taking psychedelics and apprehending the divine spiritual nature of all of humanity casts a whole pile of doubt on the idea that Hicks’ really imagined himself as a bi-pedal cyst.)
This sentiment also lets us off the hook in certain ways; a slab of animated meat shaped by magic strands of DNA can’t possibly accept any moral or ethical responsibilty. We can watch a story about a drug dealer murdering some nobody, or a white-collar criminal commiting fraud and chalk it up to “human nature”. We are purely self-interested amoebas’, no? How can we be expected to not indulge every whim or consume every sugary, blinking-light trinket? A cosmic accident can only make mini-accidents, right?
It’s in our nature, of course. And there is no escape from “nature”..
We hear the same sentiments from ‘radicals’ like Howard Bloom via sites like . We read Grant Morrison or Warren Ellis – penned comics that present entire populations or various warring factions as ‘viruses’, spreading their ‘memes’ like herpes at a goth club.( P.S, it’s time for a new concept, boys). But it isn’t a sardonic aside, it’s a ‘working model’ an ‘operational belief’ for many of these people.
It’s alluring to a certain strain of “cool” too; it doesn’t give a fuck, it’s reckless, it won’t delude itself with fairy tales, and that’s pretty rock’n’roll..
A slightly less ‘radical’ but very similar concept is often floated through various ‘smart’ media outlets, like the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, New Scientist magazine ( favorite of the atheistic-hipster club) Nova, Public Radio and in a remarkably propogandistic documentary I gritted my teeth through called “What The Bleep Do We Know?” .I’ve also encountered this one in normal conversation with friends and family.
This one’s a little more palatable, as its seed is planted in nearly every public school student in the United States ( and Europe, I’m sure) via Darwins’ theory ( which, right or wrong, is used to legitimize every tyranny by those ‘in the know’ : “Social Darwinism” it’s called, or “the recess period model”, as I like to think of it. ).
It goes like this: “We’re a bunch of hairless monkeys, of course.”
What seperates this one from the ‘walking virus’ line is that it seeks to preserve some fealty to a sense of ‘natural goodness’ that the ebola fraternity, with pet Cthulhus in their pocket set to wipe out all the jocks who beat them up and the cheerleaders who spurned them, dissavow out of hand.
In “What the Bleep..” this idea is used to rationalize or legitimize any and all sexual behaviors: Bonobo monkeys engage in nearly every kind of sexual activities one can imagine, we are shown in montage with pleasant voice-over narraion ; homosexuality , incest, etc., and they do this to preserve ‘social harmony”, we are told; You scratch my back, I’ll screw my daughter .It’s for the “greater social good” ( probably the most common theme presented by the ‘smart’ media), of course. And then the giant leap: Since we’re essentially hairless monkeys, there is absolutely no reason not to engage in wanton, every-whim-met, sexual behavior. Any restrictions on our behavior are the sole provenance of the uptight, the “un-enlightened”( in the luciferian sense) , the “insecure”( as in mentally unsound/dysgenic), the moralistic “cavemen’ ( ironic, no? I guess that’s the spot on the evolutionary chart when cave-guys first had a problem with their mates blowin’ the best man behind the big rock by the terrradactyl nest…) .All this presented by the calm , smiling faces of various self-styled sceintistic gurus, with light electronic music playing in the background.At the end of the film we are assured by the cult leader ( paraphrase) “ There is nothing you can do on this Earth that can upset God..”.Aaahhh…whata relief…
God is in our D.N.A, of course! And any urge we might have is a message from our D.N.A, from God, therefore the denial of the urge is Evil! ( Unless the urge involves ‘hurting’ anyone else, of course, then it must reigned-in.Why, I’m not sure.) It’s so simple!
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
The Monkey-sex routine is also used in an HBO doc. Called THE THIRD SEX.. It’s the exact same message, again used to confirm to us the validity of ‘human sexual diversity”, specifically ‘trans-gendered” people. Oh, yeah, and about how traditional cultures around the globe all have a secret homosexual majority that just can’t come-out due to the fascists who arrange marriages and want their children to “breed”…
As an aside, before I’m called a fascist ( if you haven’t done so already)I’d be remiss if I didn’t state that I don’t much care what activities consenting adults engage in. I don’t have to ‘appreciate’ it, or congratulate them for representing a color in our beautiful rainbow of ‘sexual diversity’.I recognize the fundamental right of every individual to live as he or she sees fit. (My views on sex and morality will be better served by an article dedicatd solely to the subject, to be written sometime in the future, but probably not.)
What this article is really about is the exposure of a nascent web of a greater ideology.Or, more specifically, how we’re being sold an ideology by pandering to our sexual desires. It’s not surprising to me that the sexual angle is used to sell what is in fact a far-reaching ideology, one with ramifications in every arena of what we call ‘civilization”. After all, the sex drive in each of us is the most difficult aspect of ourselves to reign in, and the first to go once traditional cultures fade. Wether a pretense or an adhered-to code, our sexual mores have a defining impact on culture-at-large.
What these two inter-related concepts have in common , at their core, is the imposture of scientific logic as butress for a purely mythical, or speculative vision of humans , humanity itself and civilization. This is the sigil of scientism in plain view and ,in this specific aspect, a manufactured vision employed scrupulously to disengage individuals from traditional practices by selling a get-out-of-tradtion-free card and other forms of liscence.
I use the word “mythical” because the vision of humanity that scientism presents is informed by self-serving slection of fact, all of which serve as the ingredients of a giant stew of snake-oil feel-goodism ; The sexual practices of Bonobo monkeys is presented to us as an ideal, a system by which we might fornicate our way toward a utopian future, under the umbrella of virtual rainbows of diversity projected above us, all of us plugged-in, all of us sharing access to our genitals and rectums for “the common good” at the sybarite resort/company compound. It’s a self-serving slection, no doubt. After all, Bonobo monkeys throw their own feces at each other ( before the make-up sodomy, I imagine.) Why not throw our turds at the uptight moralists? It works for the monkeys..
(A ‘mentally challenged” kid down the street plays with his feces too. Maybe he’s got the keys to utopia! Let’s all start speaking in mono-syllables! Language is for fascists!!)

At its core, represented here as ‘fundamentalist scientism” ( the tumor on rollerblades vision) the ideology of scientism reduces each individual to self-interested organism, a cosmic accident in which all creation, all human achievement , all art , all philosophy, all religion, all music and poetry is the merely the poisoned fruit of our denial; we deny that we are flesh set to rot, nothing more. “Family” is a feeble unit stitched together by mutual fear, by the mutual need for material security under the umbrella of a role-played fantasy in which the father acts as lord, oppressing the natural pleasure-pursuits of wife by shackling her to some children, who reinforce the RPG, making material the delusion. Traditional culture is mass delusion, a trivial accessory now sold as trinkets in gift shops, it’s signets now the logos of travel agancies, used to lure company-men to far off, exotic locales . “Nation” an even greater delusion, in which the most succesful of the role-playing fathers hoard their wealth behind imaginary lines.
The “What The Bleep” shit-thrower pitch presents all of the above-mentioned ( what we call, again, civilization) in lighter terms, as a bit of a joke, a happy delusion, one in which we might “do what thou will” with the silly ol’ playthings that got us to this point. Let’s stop fooling ourselves about things like “achievement”, it’ll have us believe; the only things we try to achieve are things that will directly improve our position in ‘the game’ of culture and society, in which the rules are made up as we go, since they were simply ‘made-up’ before we all achieved this trans-humanist enlightenment.The world of the monkey-idol is, in fact, flat.
However you slice it, the ideology of scientism is a coup for those in power, a major boon; the heads of media, government and banking systems (Usually intimately connected, if not one and the same.) are seen as ‘natural’ players in the game, acting out roles that any organism might . After all, once each individuals’ perception of self is reduced to that of a lonely amoeba ‘jus’ tryin to get mine’, tyranny itself will go unrecognized, oppression a matter of ‘bad dna’, or an unfortunate, but natural occurance that might ‘infect’ anyone at any given time. The only oppression in monkey-land is in an individual not having the capacity to ‘play the game’; nothing a dash of eugenics can’t solve. A belief in ideologies like Scienism opens the floodgates for unmitigated acquiesence to all forms of control, wether it be eugenics, population control programs ( we want better animated meat, only less of it..) or Global Government/Control Grid systems.If we are all but soon-to-be mounds of dirt, what is there to protect?
There is no moral ground to object to these decisions, and, if someone ‘ climbs the ladder’ to the position of a great ‘decider’, well, they’ve earned the right by means of their might.They’re simply listening to their DNA, no? If you cannot acquire the means to protect yourself materially, it just means you’re carrying the ball in a game of ‘smear the queer’ during recess and you’re knocked back a couple spots on Darwins’ chart. You’re bombed back to the Stoneage..You’re jus’ shit out of luck.

**UP Next: The diagnosis continues. Stay tuned for soothing, cure-all ointment**


aeron said...

Looking forward to your continued view on all these things. I downloaded a documentary recently about monkeys and how similar they are to us. In it they show 3 Bonobos, 2 male and 1 female in a cell where they're eating candy and various foods. One of the males is eating m and m's. Anyway, out of nowhere one of the males and the female begin fucking like crazy and the third male jumps in on the action from behind the other male and he's screaming because he doesn't have access to that sweet sweet monkey gina, but damn if he won't stop eating those fucking m and m's and his mouth in a sneer with lips peeled back and screeching reveals a mouth full of colorful candies spraying out of his perverted sex starved face! I don't think I'd ever laughed so hard in the last half year after seeing that scene played out!

Goblinko said...

Good stuff Luke. I despise the philosophy or excuse that says that humanity is a cancer on the planet. It's essentially a treasonous statement against humanity & it's also totally cowardly. That movie "What the Bleep" is a total crock of hot poops. Its central push is moral relativism & it is sponsored by a cult that follows something called Ramtha! The year it came out, the people i had the most arguments with started by quoting that movie! I can't say too much about it though, because i refused to see it.

Human Mollusk said...

Thanks for the interesting rant, Luke. I have to say though that I disagree on a lot of what you say, or I agree for completely different reasons. I don't have a lot of time to write right now so I'll focus on two of your main points.

I too thought "What the Bleep..." was a horrible piece of propaganda, but not because it transports a "scientistic" doctrine. In the contrary, I think it's the worst pseudo-scientific garbage imaginable, right up there with "creation science", designed to appeal to people with a lack of understanding of the the basics of quantum physics and a willingness to believe the film's key message, which I don't think is moral relativism or a negative view of humanity as a whole, but rather a feel-good new-age everything-is-possible solipsistic idealism.

Secondly, you go on about "fundamentalist scientism" sellig us the bi-pedal cyst view of humanity, i.e. a notion of humanity as evil, corrupt and meaningless. What's wrong here, is that, at least to my mind, this notion does not at all follow from a scientific world-view. It is true that science shows us at several places how relatively insignificant humanity is in the vast expanses of space and time, and that it is very likely the reason for a wave of mass-extinctions unparalleled in this planet's history. However, concluding from this that humanity is a vile disease, a cancer on the face of the planet, is pure polemic, and is not a function of objective science, just as is not a function of science to give us reason to believe we are in any way special. I rather think this self-deprecatory description is the result of a psychological backlash, where a culture (such as the American is) which is steeped in notions about of how great it is, how God loves you and whatnot, is then faced with the scientific facts and forced to question this inflated self-image.

As you my be able to tell, I would describe myself as a scientific materialist, but I don't see how this view excludes humanism. If you get rid of all the delusions of grandeur it is rather the only thing that is left... which to me makes it all the more precious.

Human Mollusk said...

Oh and one more thing, like with your false dichotomy of "scientism" and humanism, you're demonstrably wrong when you say that darwinism pomotes a might makes right mentality. Dawkins, who is probably seen as the main proponent of "fundamentalist scientism" nowadays, has said time and again, that although as an explanation for the development of life on earth, evolution by natural selection must be seen as a scientific fact, when it comes to social matters he is a fervent anti-darwinist. And even Darwin himself was opposed to social darwinism when it first stirred in his lifetime.
But of course you are right to point out that the rich and powerful would like to have scientific backing to justify their behaviour and their status, just as they liked to have theological backing in the age when the kings and emperors were appointed by god.
But that's not science. It's drawing wrong philosophical conclusions from scientific facts.

Paleo said...

Hope you don't mind Luke, if i took inspiration from your rant to title my last post.

Don't take as an endorsement, though! ...i well could be an evil double-agent of the "People Who Hate People Party"...

Luke P. said...

Fufu- There is a fundamental difference between "Science" and "Scientism", and it's pretty much the difference that you describe in your response. Scientism seeks to use certain aspects of science ; they pick and choose things, that support their overall agenda.
I am not anti-science, but I am against trying to interpret certain science-derived 'fact' selectively, and basing our culture on it. It's essentially what 'social engineers' have been up to for the last 80 years.
re; science and humanism. The danger here, rests on the inability of "science" to describe or explain the individual human conciousness. Until then, I think secular-humanism/scientism are a threat to free people. The logic of secular humanism , as it's often presented ( not that there is not some disagreement) usually ends in the belief in"social-engineering for the greater good".
Wether Darwin himself bought into social Darwinism is largely irrelevant. Those who find themselves in positions of immense power often do; nearly every American/ISraeli Neo-Con is an adherent of Leo Strauss, to Malthus, all informed by a kind of Faustian/Machiavellian belief in the primacy of matter, the primacy of man and his apotheosis.
And in a more Euro-centric context, many, many individuals in power, via the CFR, UN, etc, believe in 'population control' programs that involve forced sterilization, forced abortion,etc. It's not a huge leap from there to manufacturing a disease/plauge ( laugh if you will, they themselves talk about such things..)
The only way one can come to these conclusions is to believe in the primacy of matter/man; the earth is here to be perfected, as are we ( apotheosis) and it is our duty, as the truly 'enlightened' to see it through.
It's science-based lordship.
I am not anti science, real, hard science, that is..

Luke P. said...

I did find out that "what the bleep' was funded by a cult.
There is open talk at the CFR about the need to create a new , world-wide religion based on science, or 'science', I should say, and the 'environment'. This cult seems to me to be a likely recipeint of some Rockefeller money..

Noah Berlatsky said...

Hey Luke. I like this a lot more than Kenneth Smith's stuff, though I can see how he's an inspiration in some regards. You're a better writer than him, as just a first off.

I"m curious; are you a Christian? Or do you have some sort of transcendent religious belief system in place?

In any case, have I suggested that you read C.S. Lewis' sci-fi trilogy? (Out of the Silent Planet is the first one.) It's fabulous, and very much interested in attacking science-based philosophies on grounds similar to yours (if I understand you...and him!) For Lewis the worldview you describe is more about Nietzsche than Darwin, I think....

Luke P. said...

I'm still "exploring". William Blake via Northrop Frye has been a great inspiration for me lately; a churchless, visionary christian thing. It'd take a lot of time to explain here.It seems every time I mention christianity to friends and family, the worst aspects of "Christianity" immediately spring to mind, or , they develop some pop-psychology, Oprah-fied criticism that has me wanting a father in the sky to look after me.
But, no, I'm not involved in any organized religion.
Even without a structured ideology, the Scientism stuff is really easy to dismantle using simple logic. At this point, it's more diagnostic than offering a cure.

Human Mollusk said...

I don't know.
The whole scientism thing seems like a strawman argument to me, at least in the big, sweeping way it's often used and you're using it here. The instances in which I hear it the most are when religious people use the scientism card to basically describe science as a religion in itself, equally valid as any faith-based beliefsystem, htus creating a tie-situation in a discussion And of course such a strawman is then easy "to dismantle using simple logic".
You say you're not anti-science, but why then not point out the instances where people actually make fallacious scientific claims to support their pseudo-scientific ideologies, like the film What the Bleep or like the creationists. Instead your critique aims at people establishing a world view on the basis of scientific facts in the first place, with which I have no problem whatsoever. You make the teaching of evolution at schools look like some sort of indoctrination, but why should it not be taught if it's a scientific fact? Should we not tell our children about the findings of modern astronomy because it might diminish their self-confidence to know how insignificant we are in the cosmos?
To me it seems paradoxical to argue that a secular world view whith humans at its centre would lead to a devaluation of the human self-image. Instead, it is a typically religious stance that humanity is inherently evil and sinful and only the respective godhead is a source of good.
I do agree that, where a secular ideology can indeed get dangerous is when it is coupled with an elitist anti-enlightenment stance like the Straussian, which argues for Plato's "noble lie", but this is equally true for any other ideology and I fail to see how it automatically follows from secularism. Instead in a way it is a consequence of your argument that - very much in the vein of Leo Strauss - we should not implement the findings of science into public awareness because it might destabilize people's sense of self-esteem and thus weaken society.

On a final note, I do not understand what the scientific understanding of human consciousness has to do with any of this. What would it change if we found out how exactly the brain creates consciousness? If you imply that the "mystery" of concsiousness somehow points to the existence of a soul or even a divine being, you're invoking the logically fallacious god-of-the-gaps argument.

Perhaps I'm still misunderstanding what you're trying to say, it would be helpful if you would be a bit clearer about what you think should be changed in the way science is implemented into society and how you think society as a whole should be organized. Also I'm curious the hear what you have to say about sexuality. Since you were critiquing the belief in the primacy of matter, what would you see in its place?

Luke P. said...

I'm not at all for hiding scientific knoweledge. I'm weary of how it is used by those in power to advance their agenda.
Secular Humanism is an ideology, regardless of how it's used by the mythical "religious right", who are controlled by those in power and used for many things, one of which is to convinve Europeans that America is full of religious nuts.
The Fox News corporations' American media outlets are rabidly pro-war, pro-"America", but you'll find in Europe and Asia a very critical, hype-adled portrayal of "Americans", for instance.
My point in bringing up human conciuosness in this argument is in illustrating how , in fact, science can tell us very little in terms of what it means to be a human being, an individual. It is, so far, incapable of answering, or even beginning to approach, the fundamental questions that religion and philosophy have struggled with over centuries, yet it is often presented to us as not the best way, but the only way to arrive at any "truth".
Centuries of the brightest of the brightest have worked on these issues and come up with some pretty amazing stuff, most of which cannot stand up to the 'standards' any material science.So that all goes in the bin, I guess.

Human Mollusk said...

Hey Luke, for starters, I respect your opinion even if I disagree. I'm not interested in making a flamewar out of this and I don't think you are either. I appreciate that.
So just a few short remarks on your last post.
- I too am weary what is done with scientific knowledge. But the main problem I see here is the fact that more and more science today is financed by either the military or by big business, both of which are quite secretive and not necessarily dedicated to the greater good. Paired with the spreading of irrational beliefs this poses the greatest dangers to us today.
- I also would agree on that SH is an ideology, as is every system of thought, but it depends on your definition of what constitutes an ideology... it's a tricky term
- you seem to imply that I'm a "believer" in the ideology of SH because I'm european... well I don't know if you know but I'm an american citizen and I have lived in Germany, the US, France and most recently Holland, where i worked in an american company with many co-workers from the US. It's not like I have a very euro-centric perspective on things, and I usually confront people when they spout anti-american stereotypes, which admittedly they sometimes do.
But when you look at the statistics it turns out a majority of the people in the US simply ARE more religious than in Europe. Far less people accept evolution theory and embrace creationism. Being an atheist is completely unacceptable for people in office, in Europe it is largely irrelevant what a political figure believes in. About 45 percent of americans believe in the second coming of Christ. In Europe even the religious are usually far more moderate. I'm not saying this with any kind of partisanship. I don't harbour patriotic feelings toward any specific nation, and the way I see it I could easily imagine people here getting more religious in the coming years or decades. We are experiencing a wave of economically conservative rollback and there easily could be a religious one coming in its wake. But at the moment that's just the way it is at the moment.
-I 'm not sure why you say science can't tell us much about human identity and consciousness. We know more now about how the brain works and how consciousness arises than we ever did before. But I'm guessing you mean the subjective qualities of experience. Well, though it is more scarce for scientists to explore this field, but there are people like Sam Harris or Susan Blackmore, who are also among the scientists who are often referred to as "scientistic fundamentalists" and are advocating more research into introspective techniques like meditation.
- What is the amazing stuff? Who are those brightest of the brightest? There is plenty of great art and literature based on outdated models of the world and in many cases we can relate to these works just the same. Why? Not because of their respective context but because of their resonance with what is universally human. You don't need to adhere to the greek pantheon to read the Iliad nor do you have to believe in a christian creation myth to adore Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. Knowing the mythologies helps the understanding of course, and they may have a different and perhaps stronger effect on an observer of the respective faith, but that doesn't make the faith any more true.
World-views have always been replaced by competing paradigms, in prescientific times just as today, but often there are parts of these systems of thought which remain useful and sometimes even turn out to be true. And even even if not they usually remain to be of intellectal and historical interest. Dennett and Dawkins (again, two "scientistic fundamentalists") both call for the teaching of more religious background knowledge.

Oh my... I've again written far more than I planned to.
Anyway, as I said before, the scientism-scare in my opinion is a straw man for weakening scientific argumentation and pushing a religious agenda.