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Archive

Roll the Dice. Cryptocurrencies, Security and Open Systems.

As part of our continuing examination of Cryptocurrencies and our partnership with Coincentral, we’re taking a look at a new piece they have by Wilton Thornburg. You can see Thornburg’s article here:

https://coincentral.com/can-bitcoin-be-hacked/

Thornburg is discussing an idea by Andreas Antonopoulos who has two interesting metaphors about cryptocurrency and social systems.

First that the efforts to protect the crypto network is analogous to a Bubble Boy. The Bubble Boy is famous from an episode of Seinfeld.* The idea of the Bubble Boy is that by not being in anyway attached to the network, the Bubble Boy is safe from viruses and/or hacks.

The other metaphor is the sewer rat. The sewer rat is the animal that though repugnant, has been exposed to so many viruses it has developed a healthy immune system. Thornburg sees this as the open platforms that thrive on being open to input and manipulation by users.

Thornburg describes it like this: “In this lecture, he explores centralized systems as a “bubble boy”–a system created to be secure by isolating it from external forces. Eventually, the bubble bursts, exposing the system, and living in isolation prevented that system from building an immunity to attacks.”

And: “On the other hand, Andreas argues that open blockchains like Bitcoin are “sewer rats.” They live in the wild subject to untold hostile forces. Consequently, they build immune systems by necessity. Hacks happen, but the solutions serve to harden the system against future attacks.”

What we take from this is a consistent aspect of human consciousness. Consider the following: an archeological team was hard at work excavating the ruins of an ancient city in Mesopotamia. The had found the remains of homes and temples and markets. They had marked where the ancient walls had stood and found broken swords, pottery, statues and tablets full of elaborate inventories.

They also found a pair of six-sided dice. The marks 1 through 6 were still visible. Quite naturally they rolled the dice and were amazed to see that they came up sixes. They rolled them again and were again amused to see the numbers repeat. They rolled them again and when they again showed sixes they became curious.

The dice were rolled one hundred times. Each time the dice came up sixes. They had the dice x-rayed and, as expected, they discovered the dice were loaded; there were small weights imbedded in the dice.

Thornburg quotes Andreas that “All forms of cryptography can be broken. All forms of cryptography are eventually broken. That is a truism… including that currently behind Bitcoin, yes. The question again is time scale… We expect cryptography to be broken. We expect every system and subsystem within Bitcoin eventually to be weakened. What we need to do is 1) make sure that any such weaknesses are not systemic and complete. Then [2)] identify the weaknesses early enough to start addressing them so they don’t become systemic. The best way you do that is by existing in an open, collaborative environment where you learn about those weaknesses.”

Language is a code. All interaction is a system and all systems rely on codes. It is a truism that all codes are a combination of Bubble and Sewer – the known and the unknown, the open source and the hidden.

The idea that, per Andreas that the aim must be: “We expect every system and subsystem within Bitcoin eventually to be weakened. What we need to do is 1) make sure that any such weaknesses are not systemic and complete. Then [2)] identify the weaknesses early enough to start addressing them so they don’t become systemic”

This is accurate and impossible. The loaded dice are a system and a sign. The system was broken but it continues in endlessly alternating form with a constant symbiosis between bubble and sewer.

The one thing they all have in common is the meta-system on which they all rely – humans. And human beings have, since day one strived to be both open and closed systems; adaptive and fixed.

Cryptocurrencies are loaded dice because all systems devised by the primary system called humans – are loaded dice. There are those who know the dice are loaded and those who don’t – the bubble and the sewer.

 

*It’s worth noting that one of the primary engines or plot devices in the Bubble Boy episode of Seinfeld is a typo in a trivia game which results in the argument that in turn breaks the Bubble Boy’s containment field, exposing him to germs for which he has no immunity. Cheating, mistake, and the connection between system are hardwired into the meta-system.

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19 comments on “Roll the Dice. Cryptocurrencies, Security and Open Systems.

  1. I was expecting you to bring up a Jaynesian perspective. The bicameral mind is a closed system. And post-bicameral consciousness is an open system. This obviously relates. Consciousness arose with the spread of coins. Barter and trade, prior to that in the Bronze Age, required closed systems of trust that were highly contained and probably ritualized.

    The bitcoin defenders are arguing for an open system, which is an adaptable but unstable system. It works well in the short term while incurring long term costs that aren’t sustainable. Failure can’t be prevented. One of the economies during the Bronze Age, on the other hand, might have been able to continually and safely operate for centuries without a hitch.

    What kind of economic and monetary system is dependent on what kind of society and hence on what kind of mentality. Bitcoin is the kind of solution one expects from a society that doesn’t have much sense of or hope for a reliable future. It’s a way of dealing with uncertainty and yet the ideology behind it promotes further uncertainty. There can be no strong permanent trust in bitcoin. It’s at best a temporary tool during a period of transition.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The sewer rat is a good example.

      Rats are an invasive species. Invasive species have two main traits. First, they are adaptable in uncertain and unstable conditions. And second, when introduced into an environment, they will destabilize it further (killing off or out-competing other species, destroying the balance). This doesn’t matter so much in a sewer, as that is an artificial environment maintained by humans. But rats don’t merely stay within sewers, as they get into cargo and onto ships where they travel the world, including to once isolated islands with delicate ecosystems.

      As such, we could make the same basic points about cryptocurrencies. It’s unsurprising to see an invasive monetary system take hold so easily and to so quickly spread as a global phenomenon. Based on this, we might expect it to harm traditional monetary systems and destabilize national economic systems. No doubt cryptocurrencies have long escaped the sewers and are out in the larger economic ecosystem, and no economic island will be safe because there is no way to keep them out or to eliminate them once they take hold.

      Cryptocurrencies, one could argue, will make the problems of capitalism worse. And as everything gets worse, they will thrive and come to dominate. As with ecosystems, it could take a long time, maybe millennia, before societies found a new balance. That new balance sometimes comes by way of the invasive species becoming so successful that it destroys itself, either eliminating its food supply or so fouling its environment. Then the surviving species, with the destabilizing species removed, can go back to co-evolving and establish another ecosystem.

      I don’t know enough about bitcoin to know whether or not this rat metaphor is apt. But it’s interesting that someone, in studying cryptocurrencies, did think it apt.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. rauldukeblog says:

        “As such, we could make the same basic points about cryptocurrencies. It’s unsurprising to see an invasive monetary system take hold so easily and to so quickly spread as a global phenomenon. Based on this, we might expect it to harm traditional monetary systems and destabilize national economic systems.”

        Very insightful and provocative way to tweak the idea – and that’s a double key. First to the point about the rat metaphor you’re quite right. But the meta reading strikes me as even more intriguing. What I’m noticing about cryptos the more I read up on them is the lack of any really deep analysis by the people who are analyzing cryptocurrencies. Mostly there are two groups – the users who really only want tips and more information on how to generate profit and the “thinkers” who primarily look at the technology issues – server size, legal issues, hacking, etc.

        But the absence of any “close textual analysis” is telling in the dog that hasn’t barked sense.

        I’m increasingly fascinated by the consistency with which systems emerge absent any self-awareness of the nature of systems and the consistency of their forms.

        My current focus was sparked by the odd tone in Sartre who surely was well read yet spoke and wrote as if he was unaware of all the hep kats who had come before him and who he was paraphrasing. (In fact I just found a fascinating example in a Camus bio where Sartre’s review of a Camus novel is as the Brits say – too clever by half). But! Your point about cryptos fits the pattern.

        I think the first culprit obviously is the rise of specialization and the Balkanization of academic gangs and then the general reactionary attack against Postmodern discourse/methodology as “Marxist” resulting in a lot of people who are either ignorant of the method or hostile and can’t engage in reading at a meta level.

        I’ve been working on excavating the ways in which crypto is discussed and how that goes missing but I think you really drilled in and touched on an important point.

        More to follow.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. The more I think about it the more apt it seems. An invasive species only has to worry about short-term survival. That is because it is so prolific that it can always invade a new ecosystem, that is until there is no undisturbed ecosystem left.

      On the human level, rats are a more than appropriate example, since they have long lived with us. The thing about rats is that, in being resistant to disease, they make for the perfect disease carriers and so can be the cause of plagues.

      Speaking of a bubble boy is also apt. What a bubble boy represents is a compromised immune system. Rats don’t only have strong immune systems but are also highly tolerant of toxins, in that the survival of the species only requires an individual rat to live long enough to breed and they breed quickly. An invasive species doesn’t need to be healthy to survive and thrive.

      Humans also don’t need to be healthy to build invasive civilizations. But over time, unhealthy populations create the conditions for societal decay, as diseases and toxins stunt neurocognitive, psychological, and moral development while also making for a less productive workforce.

      This fits into my recent studies of health. The body is an ecosystem that has specific requirements and that includes specific requirements of the larger natural environment. Sickly individuals and sickly societies, of course, can and do exist. But no one,other than a psychopath or authoritarian, wants to be a sickly individual in a sickly society.

      The sewer rat and the bubble boy are part of the same problem. The same conditions that makes the rat thrive is what makes the bubble boy sick. The more we create a world for rats the worse the world will become for humans.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. I just watched the video. It’s a good analysis, within its limits.

      The failure of framing is that only two bad choices are presented, a forced choice between lesser evils, between a sewer rat and a bubble boy. But if were being honest, who would willingly and freely choose either of these for ourselves? Obviously, a bubble boy would be an unhappy and limited life. But no sane person would want to be a sewer rat.

      We aren’t rats. We’re humans. So, where do we find examples of the healthiest humans. Certainly, not in bubbles or sewers. The healthiest humans, as Weston A. Price and others have found, are traditional societies. Recent research has found isolated hunter-gatherer tribes have the greatest diversity of microbiomes and they lack any of the modern industrialized diseases of body and mind. These are also people who, in some cases, have been living stably and sustainably in their ecosystems for millennia.

      Why doesn’t Antonopoulos and Thornburg discuss this third option? Why do they presume our capitalist realism and WEIRD society is the default condition, in which all choices are framed?

      Like

      1. This is why we need more of a liberal arts education with an emphasis on critical thinking, the humanities, and social sciences; history, classical studies, and philology.

        These people would realize how narrow is the frame of their thinking if they were more well educated and widely informed. Reading a few key works in anthropology would open up a world of possibilities to them. There are at east dozens of other models of societies and economies out there.

        Capitalist realism is a monoculture. The same applies to agriculture. But the same also applies to invasive species and invasive ideologies. When a single thing comes to dominate to the detriment of all else, the system becomes unstable. But this awareness isn’t possible when a single ideology has become the dominant paradigm.

        Our thinking has narrowed down to the size of our insular WEIRD worldview, a monoculture having become a reality tunnel. We now live in a world where a large part of the global population rarely if ever experiences a thriving ecosystem or ever fully sees the night sky with all of its stars. We are not only sick but don’t realize there is any other option, besides a sickly sewer rat and a sickly bubble boy.

        When talking about immunity, too many forget about the need for immunity against mind viruses. To build our intellectual defenses, we are going to need far more than better schooling, considering so far the dominant forces in our society have used schools both public and private as the primary centers of indoctrination.

        https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2015/01/08/ritual-and-the-consciousness-monoculture/

        “The form of consciousness that you and I share (if you are reading this) was likely not the only one to sweep across new territory, erasing previous variation. But it is the most recent such sweep, and it has been a dramatic one. It provides particular ways of subjectively experiencing time, identity, the self, other people, external reality, and the divine. (E. Richard Sorenson lists the consciousness variants as sense-of-name, sense-of-space, sense-of-number, sense-of-truth, and sense-of-emotion.) Ours is a literate kind of consciousness, gathering momentum with the advent of printing and achieving its ultimate realization (though with some subversion) in the form of the internet. Since it appears to be transmitted by schooling and since it is the form of consciousness most conducive to industrialization, it may be thought of as scholastic-industrial consciousness. […]

        “As scholastic-industrial consciousness has made our selves more weighty and painful, increasing the need for the loss of self through ritual, the opportunity for such rituals has decreased. As we have become more literate and rational, a process begun during the Enlightenment and accelerating throughout the twentieth century, group rituals and the mental states that they induce have been lost. Those rituals that are left tend to be of the spectacle variety rather than participatory – listening to music rather than making it, watching rather than dancing. It is a great loss. Rituals function, on the one hand, as “social vitamins” – necessary ingredients for human flourishing that are provided by ancestral social “diets” but frequently left out of modern lives. On the other hand, rituals are necessary social glue, connecting small communities and helping their members to cooperate and feel a sense of social belonging.”

        https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/individualism-and-isolation/

        “It is what some call the Wetiko, one of the most infectious and deadly of mind viruses. “The New World fell not to a sword but to a meme,” as Daniel Quinn stated it (Beyond Civilization, p. 50). But it is a mind virus that can only take hold after immunity is destroyed. As long as there were societies of the free, the contagion was contained because the sick could be healed. But the power of the contagion is that the rabidly infected feel an uncontrollable compulsion to attack and kill the uninfected, the very people who would offer healing. Then the remaining survivors become infected and spread it further. A plague of victimization until no one is left untouched, until there is nowhere else to escape. Once all alternatives are eliminated, once a demiurgic monoculture comes to power, we are trapped in what Philip K. Dick called the Black Iron Prison. Sickness becomes all we know.”

        https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/beyond-that-there-is-only-awe/

        “Those other cultures might have gifted us with insights about our humanity that now are lost forever, just as extinct species might have held answers to questions not yet asked and medicines for diseases not yet understood. Almost all that now is left is a nearly complete monoculture with the differences ever shrinking into the constraints of capitalist realism. If not for scientific studies done on the last of isolated tribal people, we would never know how much diversity exists within human nature. Many of the conclusions that earlier social scientists had made were based mostly on studies involving white, middle class college kids in Western countries, what some have called the WEIRD: Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. But many of those conclusions have since proven wrong, biased, or limited. […]

        “In Monoculture, F. S. Michaels writes (pp. 1-2):

        “THE HISTORY OF HOW we think and act, said twentieth-century philosopher Isaiah Berlin, is, for the most part, a history of dominant ideas. Some subject rises to the top of our awareness, grabs hold of our imagination for a generation or two, and shapes our entire lives. If you look at any civilization, Berlin said, you will find a particular pattern of life that shows up again and again, that rules the age. Because of that pattern, certain ideas become popular and others fall out of favor. If you can isolate the governing pattern that a culture obeys, he believed, you can explain and understand the world that shapes how people think, feel and act at a distinct time in history.1

        “The governing pattern that a culture obeys is a master story — one narrative in society that takes over the others, shrinking diversity and forming a monoculture. When you’re inside a master story at a particular time in history, you tend to accept its definition of reality. You unconsciously believe and act on certain things, and disbelieve and fail to act on other things. That’s the power of the monoculture; it’s able to direct us without us knowing too much about it.

        “Over time, the monoculture evolves into a nearly invisible foundation that structures and shapes our lives, giving us our sense of how the world works. It shapes our ideas about what’s normal and what we can expect from life. It channels our lives in a certain direction, setting out strict boundaries that we unconsciously learn to live inside. It teaches us to fear and distrust other stories; other stories challenge the monoculture simply by existing, by representing alternate possibilities.”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. rauldukeblog says:

        This is fantastic! I am pressed for time but will return to this later. Needless to say we’re in agreement. What instantly came to mind was the William Burroughs line: Language is a virus.

        (Much) more to follow!

        Like

      3. rauldukeblog says:

        There may be more here than I can respond to in a note. synchronistically the plague metaphor strikes me because I’m reading about Camus’ struggles to write his novel, The Plague. Ostensibly about the Occupation but of course a metaphor for the human condition and thus connects to your point(s).

        A reworking of pedagogy is a matter of survival. the reactionary hostility to Postmodern methodology is itself a type of social disease that requires some sort of intellectual penicillin to combat it.

        The truly desperate need for self awareness – consciousness s raising in the now defunct 60s sense of the phrase which is a throwback to Marx v alienation itself a throwback to a kind of come to Jesus awakening etc – is essential – a sense that we’re stuck with each other and thus, we are our brother’s keeper. Like it or not.

        But then of course we’re right back to the nature of consciousness and the question(s) of how can a mechanism that invents itself as it examines itself can change itself. I suspect that the anxiety to arrive at a definitive system is generated by the fear that we are a dog chasing its tail in perpetuity.

        But none of that even if true means that the planet isn’t on fire and we are either with the fire or the fire brigade.

        Hardly an original notion – Voltaire in Candie ends with essentially that – philosophy is all well and good but we have to tend the garden.

        And I don’t mean that in the dreary utilitarian sense that “philosophy” is irrelevant.

        ritual of course is a vast topic. The Moderns were obsessed with it – Hemingway’s entire body of work is at one level an examination of the cost incurred when rituals lose their meaning or when society forgets their efficacy.

        I’m certain I’m missing several key points that deserve more and deeper responses.

        I’ll return to this and so more to follow.

        Liked by 1 person

    4. rauldukeblog says:

      Not mentioning Jaynes is down to not thinking about it (though your point is excellent) and also an editorial decision in that the posts are somewhat tailored to the Coincentral audience. I’ve been splitting the difference but your points are all solid and worth exploring.

      In fact they’re making me think about a longer expanded piece on cryptocurrencies and consciousness. At the same time I’m focused on the long piece on History repeating and consciousness so things are a bit of a jumble at the moment.

      With all of that in mind I think your point about the reflection of contemprorary thinking in cryptocurrencies is right on target. They are a reflection of instability, and anxiety and a sense that the future is chaotic at best. there is an element of sociopathy in them as well – at best a forest for the trees attitude but at worst something piratical. I’ve noticed that what is absent among the crypto community is the obvious connection between tax revenue and social services – but in the libertarian/anarchist/sociopathic mind those things are either someone else’s problem or they will work themselves out.

      But as you say it’s a sign of a lack or absence of hope for the future. Of course the more aware users wouldn’t deny that and they speak of how crypto is a direct answer to the ’08 crash and then they specifically identify ’08 as exhibit A in their indictment of the system – by which they mean the people pushing the buttons that caused the crash.

      to your point about crypto as adaptable but unstable I agree though the crypto community as a matter of near religious faith insists on stability. But that’s a variation on the computer geek ethos. It’s the deep thinkers in tech who will readily admit that tech is inherently unstable but the field is in its public domain dominated by the marketing cadres who sell stability as a marketing tool. Obviously because who would buy a tool that is prone to blowing up and/or destroying you. Crypto users tend to not be deep thinkers except at the level of the handful of designers who are math geniuses and able to think across (illusionary/provisional) barriers. But of course they don’t do interviews so it’s another closed system with a repetition of the idea that it’s system is both unique, definitive and essentially failure proof.

      This seems to be a recurring motif – those three points keep repeating.

      I’m reading Karl Popper on the pre Socratic philosophers and it’s like reading Sartre & Co – the claim to definitive, the claim to being original, and following from that the claim to be a system that wont fail.

      More to follow.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There is definitely plenty of Jaynesian and related material here.

        “But then of course we’re right back to the nature of consciousness and the question(s) of how can a mechanism that invents itself as it examines itself can change itself. I suspect that the anxiety to arrive at a definitive system is generated by the fear that we are a dog chasing its tail in perpetuity.”

        Now there is an intriguing line of thought. Along with post-bicameral consciousness, that fits in with what was generally coming up in the Axial Age. A sudden impulse toward the abstract and ideal, the objective and certain. This relates to the importance of both writing and coins, of what is legible and countable, especially as the new mindset most clearly appeared in trade and accounting. There was a growing obsession with record-keeping and rules.

        About anxiety, I’m reminded of Thomas Ligotti’s nonfiction work on consciousness. I’m not sure exactly how it fits in. But there is also the angle of Cartesian anxiety. Either way, the mind feels set adrift without the safe and stable anchoring of the older mindset. Ligotti would put the appearance of anxiety earlier, although that doesn’t exactly fit the anthropological record — some tribal hunter-gatherers seem to have a distinct lack of anxiety or anything similar. A shift happened, wherever one wishes to pinpoint it and however one wishes to explain it, no doubt with the anxious state of mind worsening from one era to the next bringing us to our present crisis.

        As you suggest, how does consciousness hope to solve the dilemma of its own confusion? We are Wile E. Coyote, having run past the edge of the cliff, now looking down. There is nothing below us to hold us up, that is to keep us from falling. It’s a disturbing feeling. There is the even more disturbing thought that maybe there never was anything below us and we were always falling, having mistaken the sense of movement and trajectory for progress.

        Douglas Adams has some advice for flying. The trick to flying is to throw yourself at the ground and miss. Good advice. But I don’t think we’re going to miss. Then again, there is Philip K. Dick’s conjecture that a falling rock, if capable of reason, would think that, “I want to fall at the rate of thirty-two feet per second.” It’s always nice having a reason for what is happening to you. We humans are good at coming up with reasons, no matter what is going on around us. It gives us a sense of meaning and purpose.

        “ritual of course is a vast topic. The Moderns were obsessed with it – Hemingway’s entire body of work is at one level an examination of the cost incurred when rituals lose their meaning or when society forgets their efficacy.”

        I’ve long intended to write a full piece on the mindset of ritual. Specifically as related to ancient Judaism and early Christianity, as well as Catholicism and Protestantism. There is a story in the Bible about a man who stops in a middle of an important ritual to console his brother, the lesson being that love and compassion are greater of value than religious traditions of formulaic rituals.

        I’ve touched on this a bit in previous posts, in the context of Harry Frankfurt’s bullshit vs sincerity, John Beebe’s integrity, Lynne Kelly’s mnemonics, and of course Jaynes’ bicameralism vs consciousness. It has much to do with other things as well, such as the psychocultural distinction between honor and trust, shame and guilt. This connects as well to that link about monoculture and ritual, which I’ve linked to a few times in posts. There is the element of the power of language and music, marching and dance. It’s part of a long term project that definitely has Jaynes at the center, but there is the related line of thought involving my theory of symbolic conflation and Lewis Hyde’s view of metonymy, story, and body. I’m sure Carl Jung also had some insights relevant to ritual and its mindset.

        One might note that until well into the Axial Age there was no word for ‘religion’ as something separate from every other aspect of life and society. So, there was no rituals as such, having to do with Beebe’s observation that societies that have ‘integrity’ (i.e., that have integral/integrated social orders and cultural worldviews) don’t need a word to describe it. They also don’t need totalizing explanations, theories of everything, and absolute certainty. The stability of their societies disallows thinking in this manner. And this makes me think about Kafka, Agamben, gestures, and ‘a way out’ — seemingly about the thwarting the entanglements of consciousness.

        By the way, I could see cryptocurrencies turning into an end-of-times cult or something like a UFO cult. Or maybe something like the mind virus in Snow Crash. Many right-wing ideologies already have a religiosity about them and the movements that form around them often overlap with religions. Think of the meeting of libertarianism and fundamentalism in the Tea Party. Or think about how many former fundamentalists, in losing religion, seem to turn to libertarianism to serve the same needs (including bodily resurrection with cryogenics and a heavenly salvation for the elect with space colonization). The ideological purity demanded by many on the political right is a dead give away.

        I’d watch for how the impulse for ritual might emerge in this milieu. We are about ready for the birth of a new religion, as we approach the end of one age and the possible beginning of another (like the apocalyptic religion — the Ghost Dance — that arose among the Native American survivors and refugees on the Great Plains).

        “it’s another closed system with a repetition of the idea that it’s system is both unique, definitive and essentially failure proof. This seems to be a recurring motif – those three points keep repeating.”

        I appreciate you bringing these together. It does seem key to so much. And I’d love to see you suss out how this tripartite mindset developed. I’d assume it has its origins in the Axial Age or at least aspects of it do. I could begin to make the connections, just giving it a bit of thought. For example, the uniqueness becomes an issue once a story or info goes from oral tradition to written form, as it becomes isolated from its living cultural context and so can be altered with each retelling, rewriting, copying, or translation. But writing something down also makes it definitive, like the last oral version that gets written down

        “I’m reading Karl Popper on the pre Socratic philosophers and it’s like reading Sartre & Co – the claim to definitive, the claim to being original, and following from that the claim to be a system that wont fail.”

        I’d like to read your thoughts about Karl Popper on the pre-Socratic philosophers. It would be useful seeing specific examples of what you have in mind.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. rauldukeblog says:

        It would take a long post to do all of your points justice but…

        Popper is fascinating. The first part of the book (that’s as far as I’ve gone with detours into Sartre, Camus & related figures) is about Parmenides who looms large as a figure mentioned by Plato. A lot of it is dry historiography but two of Popper’s points stand out:

        First that Parmenides and his contemporaries concluded that knowledge of the world was illusionary, and that their theories were definitive.

        Second, that Aristotle believed that thinking about objects gave them consciousness.

        In the case of the first it’s extraordinary that there is essentially nothing in the subsequent 2000 years that is remarkably different from Parmenides in terms of the issues – people reach different conclusions but reading Parmenides (mostly fragments of his work) is not that distinct from Sartre or anyone else. It’s the same questions and a kind of back and forth for the answers about what we know and how we can know it. Not to oversimplify as Sartre manages to fill a few thousand pages (taking speed has something to do with that) but essentially it’s all the same.

        And that brings up this issue of the three repetitions: claims of totality (it explains “everything”), claims of being definitive (it answers all questions), and, perhaps most striking, the claim of originality – and yet, they all (the philosophers) were very well read people many of them university grad students (subsequently Phd) and we know they all had to read everyone who came before – but they all makes these claims.

        And then there’s the business with Aristotle which I find stunning. Popper is almost but not quite dismissive of it and calls it borderline mysticism and yet it clearly is a forerunner to Hume and Bundle theory and almost parallel to Buddhism.

        Hume doesn’t say we give objects consciousness but he brings the object inside our consciousness and states that it can’t exist accept as we conceive of it and then only as a “bundle” – so “chair” is a set rather than the singular “chair” – “chair” = “sitting” and “sitting” = “you” or “I” “sitting+chair” and so on.

        In certain forms of Buddhism the idea is to peal all of that away until there is nothing/everything.

        Hume’s point ultimately is that there is no first cause which is exactly the question the preSocratic Greeks were asking and the context for Parmenides that Popper discusses.

        So what hits me is why are we in what seems to be a loop – the same question(s) and the same answer(s) and these otherwise brilliant people all acting as if no one has asked the question or if they have why didn’t it occur to Sartre that the meta issue is repetition?

        An important side note is that almost everyone gets bogged down in the material – that is readings of the dense works – Sartre’s Being and Nothingness is a brick of a book and Hegel is a madhouse and so on. So the meta question vanishes amid the often acrimonious debates.

        So what I’m trying to do is stay out of the tall grass as I know it’s a black hole but also I don’t think it matters if Sartre or Hegel or Wittgenstein were “right” or “wrong” but what does matter is, the three points and asking why does this keep repeating?

        I haven’t hit the second part of Popper’s book but it was a reference to it that got me hooked as Popper gave a lecture (I stumbled over a ref to it) attended by Einstein and Nils Bohr in which Popper told them that their discussions about Quantum randomness vs non random designs was identical to…Parmenides!

        It is I think a stunning issue in terms of implications about human consciousness being a dog chasing its own tail in perpetuity.

        The scientific community (I’m generalizing) tends to be incredibly arrogant and dismissive of anything or anyone who is not a member of the club/cult. You get the exception like Neil de Grasse Tyson and a few others but even there Tyson is not about to discuss Jaynes or Faulkner let alone Popper – in part because of as we’ve discussed the system has laid down borders and you mention Popper you’re not only “outside of your lane” but Popper connects to Frankfurt and Adorno and Horkheimer and the next thing you know Jordan Peterson is screaming that there are Neo-Marxist Postmodernists hiding under your bed!;-)

        I’m finishing up a Camus bio and then back to Popper/Parmenides and then it’s the 17th century and early 18th which contextualizes Hume, Descartes, Spinoza, and the tech revolution specifically regarding lenses which I’m guessing was a key factor in Hume’s thinking and then there’s the impact of opium (Marx btw, was taking a mixture of opium and arsenic to treat a terrible skin condition – not untypical as those were the “medicines” of the era stretching back into the late Middle Age).

        More to follow – there’s a lot and it’s a thicket!:-)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I like where you’re going with this. Our thinking on the matter is parallel in many ways. But your particular take is pointing in a thought-provoking direction.

        “And then there’s the business with Aristotle which I find stunning. Popper is almost but not quite dismissive of it and calls it borderline mysticism and yet it clearly is a forerunner to Hume and Bundle theory and almost parallel to Buddhism.”

        Some detect and Eastern influence in the early Greek thinkers. There had been extensive trade routes going back to the Bronze Age (e.g., near the end of that period, the Egyptians had a monopoly on rare blue glass beads that were found as far away as Northern Europe). Many Greeks were widely traveled, including into the East. And Easterners were in the Mediterranean at the time.

        Buddhism was one of those Axial Age religions that grew quickly and spread far and wide. Besides, Buddhism had been filtering into the Christian world for a long time. Augustine seems to have introduced elements into Christianity from the religion he grew up with, Manichaeanism which was a combination of Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and Jewish baptismal cult. Later on, Buddha himself was turned into a Catholic saint.

        As for Hume, there is conjecture that he learned of Buddhism from returning Christian missionaries. So, Buddhist-like ideas found in Hume’s writing shouldn’t seem too odd.

        “Hume doesn’t say we give objects consciousness but he brings the object inside our consciousness and states that it can’t exist accept as we conceive of it and then only as a “bundle” – so “chair” is a set rather than the singular “chair” – “chair” = “sitting” and “sitting” = “you” or “I” “sitting+chair” and so on.”

        That sounds a bit like what is called ‘affordances’ in situational cognition. Maybe Hume was an influence, direct or indirect, on that idea. Or maybe it was a common Buddhist influence on both of them.

        “In certain forms of Buddhism the idea is to peal all of that away until there is nothing/everything.”

        The main difference for Buddhism is that it isn’t meant to be a mere philosophy. The purpose is to change consciousness itself, to profoundly alter the way of being. Like a ‘gesture’, its purpose is more to thwart than to analyze. Understanding is only sought to the degree that its useful means. Combined with William S. Burroughs Gnostic project in fighting mind viruses, we are going far beyond intellectual defense. It’s an attempt to change the game. Or from Robert Anton Wilson’s perspective, to play a more fun game of one’s own choosing.

        “So what hits me is why are we in what seems to be a loop – the same question(s) and the same answer(s) and these otherwise brilliant people all acting as if no one has asked the question or if they have why didn’t it occur to Sartre that the meta issue is repetition?”

        Maybe every society is in a loop. But the difference for ours is that the loop is less apparent and acknowledged. Even though the notion of linear history has been around since the early Axial Age, it has only recently more fully taken hold in this post-Enlightenment Age. In the early colonies, Americans still experienced time as cyclical (see Circles and Lines by John Putnam Demos). That sense lingered on. The reason the American Revolution was called that because, based on the astrological meaning, a revolution was supposed to be a return to a prior position and state within a larger cycle (e.g., a return to the feudal commons and the rights of Englishmen). The failure of that sense of return created the first major rupture into history.

        https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/revolution-and-apocalypse/

        That was also a time of declining religiosity, simultaneous with rising radicalism. The English experienced the Protestant Reformation with a delay, only fully being expressed with the English Civil War. That further broke the hold of whatever was left of the ritual state of mind and probably set the stage for the transformation of what revolution could mean. The loss of ritualism wasn’t immediately replaced with modern religion, as there was a period where most Americans expressed little religiosity (church attendance, marriage ceremonies, etc) with it only picking back up in the 1800s with a new wave of evangelicalism and fundamentalism.

        Ritual didn’t have the power it once had. But the impulse for ritual remained. So, it became distorted as repetition-compulsion.

        https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/technological-fears-and-media-panics/

        “In The Secret Life of Puppets, Victoria Nelson makes some useful observations of reading addiction, specifically in terms of formulaic genres. She discusses Sigmund Freud’s repetition compulsion and Lenore Terr’s post-traumatic games. She sees genre reading as a ritual-like enactment that can’t lead to resolution, and so the addictive behavior becomes entrenched. This would apply to many other forms of entertainment and consumption. And it fits into Derrick Jensen’s discussion of abuse, trauma, and the victimization cycle.

        “I would broaden her argument in another way. People have feared the written text ever since it was invented. In the 18th century, there took hold a moral panic about reading addiction in general and that was before any fiction genres had developed (Frank Furedi, The Media’s First Moral Panic). The written word is unchanging and so creates the conditions for repetition compulsion. Every time a text is read, it is the exact same text.

        “That is far different from oral societies. And it is quite telling that oral societies have a much more fluid sense of self. The Piraha, for example, don’t cling to their sense of self nor that of others. When a Piraha individual is possessed by a spirit or meets a spirit who gives them a new name, the self that was there is no longer there. When asked where is that person, the Piraha will say that he or she isn’t there, even if the same body of the individual is standing right there in front of them. They also don’t have a storytelling tradition or concern for the past.”

        That fluidity of self is balanced with a stability of society. There is the anecdote of the Piraha’s relationship to dugout boats, something they don’t make but will trade for. When a Piraha man asked Daniel Everett to get them a dugout boat, he decided to instead hire a craftsman to teach them to build their own. The Piraha easily learned how to do this. But sometime later a Piraha once again asked Everett to get another dugout boat. His response was to point out that they had learned how to build one for themselves. The Piraha, undaunted by this clever white guy, simply stated that Piraha don’t build dugout boats. They don’t because they never did, and there was no cognitive capacity or interest in imagining a future where they might be a different kind of society where Piraha did do such things — it was just incomprehensible.

        I’ve noted before that the Piraha have some traits that seem akin to bicameralism. But Jaynes was never talking about small hunter-gatherer tribes. A bicameral society has more set social roles. One thought about bicameralism is that the voices heard spoke mostly stock phrases expressing stock wisdom and eliciting stock behaviors. The voices rarely if ever said anything new and original. It was a self-contained worldview and so originality was unnecessary. All of life would have been ritualistic and formulaic. With collapse, losing this psychosocial stability would have been traumatizing and anxiety-inducing. Post-bicameral consciousness required repetition to attempt the creation of a new anchoring device but anchoring itself within itself, an ultimately impossible aspiration.

        “So the meta question vanishes amid the often acrimonious debates.”

        That is by design, I’d argue. It’s a defense mechanism. The entire post-bicameral identity and social order is dependent on no one seriously tugging on that loose thread. Acrimonious debates are to philosophy and science what is spectacle to politics and media, that is to say a distraction of mesmerizing melodrama. In line with symbolic conflation, the seeming focus of debate is not the real issue. The actual power is in the repetition itself, the hidden ritual-like behavior that invokes and substantiates the thick rigid boundaries of egoic consciousness.

        “So what I’m trying to do is stay out of the tall grass as I know it’s a black hole but also I don’t think it matters if Sartre or Hegel or Wittgenstein were “right” or “wrong” but what does matter is, the three points and asking why does this keep repeating?”

        That is wise. It’s the same basic impetus to my own strategy, to step back from the mire.

        “It is I think a stunning issue in terms of implications about human consciousness being a dog chasing its own tail in perpetuity.”

        Consciousness can’t stop. That is because all there is to consciousness is movement. I came to realize that with years of meditation. Looking into consciousness, there is no there there. All that is going on is a dizzying merry-go-round ride. This can even be demonstrated with our senses, in terms of basic awareness. Sit still in an unmoving environment with your eyes open and without blinking or shifting your gaze, just maintain a soft unfocused gaze — and after a short while while your vision will go blank because eyesight necessitates constant contrast. That is a good metaphor for post-bicameral consciousness.

        “…then it’s the 17th century and early 18th which contextualizes Hume, Descartes, Spinoza, and the tech revolution specifically regarding lenses which I’m guessing was a key factor in Hume’s thinking…”

        If you want to look into the history of lenses, I’d also look into the history of glass-making in general. The Egyptian blue glass is an interesting example, as the color blue is rare in nature and words for it are late to develop. Humans aren’t born with the ability to discern blue. An idea of blueness has to be invented before one can see blue. So the Egyptians making blue glass was an innovation, not just in glass-making technology but also in thought — maybe a precursor of what was to come.

        https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2016/08/21/blue-on-blue/

        More relevant to your own line of thought, I’d suggest considering the long development of mirror usage and its impact. When first introduced to their own face in a mirror, the typical response from indigenous people is to become depressed and anxious. It took a long time for the development of smooth glass for mirrors, the precedent for the technique of making lenses. The first glass mirrors used for grooming were made in the early Axial Age. Improved technique came in the Renaissance as mirrors were coveted by the rich and powerful. Then around the Enlightenment it became affordable for the growing middle class to own a mirror, at about the same time lenses were becoming a major force in helping people to see what they couldn’t see before.

        https://www.brown.edu/Departments/Joukowsky_Institute/courses/13things/7306.html

        Like

      4. rauldukeblog says:

        I had been thinking about the trade routes as a delivery system so it makes sense. I was a bit surprised that there isn’t more scholarly research (at least that I could find after an admittedly cursory look) about Buddhist connections to the Greeks.

        The information about Hume is intriguing. I’ve been thinking about the impact of trade between Holland and England and the importation of increasingly good/high quality lenses from Holland (particularly in regards to Hooke and his work on plants and the eye of a fly etc) and how that gave Hume new avenues so it is logical to assume he had direct or indirect contact with missionaries or people who did. The more one thinks of a total system instead of the rather more narrow biographical study things come into focus.

        Agree vis Buddhism. Hume & co were in a sense merchant philosophers vs religious figures though from what little I know Hume was involved in several religious arguments – but your point about the difference is correct.

        Re: Loops: Our society is dominated by the idea/ideal of progress. If “history repeats” then capitalism is bunk and religion as well and obviously the powers that be wont be happy about that “womp womp”;-)

        Very intrigued by your comment about “revolution” as a cycle concept. the only place it’s still discussed is with the Moderns – Joyce especially – but he and the rest are locked in a kind of museum where neither doctrinaire right or left like them because again if things are circular than no dialectic and no progress.

        thanks for the links – media panics looks interesting!

        The repetition inherent in text is really a striking idea! The text as both answer to anxiety and cause of anxiety? Perhaps connected to the compulsion to declare theories definitive – thus eliminating the need to read another text?

        The Piraha is extraordinary in and of itself but in Jaynesian terms really mind blowing (pun intended;-))

        Re: Post bi-cameralism and anxiety. I have considered the trial of Socrates to be an example of that but recently read that there were a series similar heresy trials in a kind of “witch hunt” atmosphere. My guess is that it was a transitional phase in which pre and post bi-cameral minds were clashing. I wrote a paper on that years ago that I’ll have to dig up but the details of the rituals in Athens, etc are revealing. It does suggest a transition perhaps as you say Axial.

        I think you’re probably correct about the acrimonious debates being about spectacle and diversion (ritualized anxiety?) rather than being about resolution.

        “The actual power is in the repetition itself, the hidden ritual-like behavior that invokes and substantiates the thick rigid boundaries of egoic consciousness.”

        Brilliant!

        As to right or wrong – it’s just not as interesting to me and frankly once you see the repetition it ceases to matter and then as you say a healthy sense of detachment/stepping back is far more productive.

        Regarding blue and mirrors. thanks for the link – I’m very curious – for several reasons but also because I’m looking at using the story from Herodotus about how Helen of Troy 9according to the Egyptians!) spent the war in Egypt and it was a “mirror” or ghost of her that was in Troy.

        Really an extraordinary thing that the story occurred – never mind the “truth” of it – just that a sort of “Grassy knoll” issue shows up so long ago and involves ideas about mirroring and duplicates and veracity.

        Also regarding mirrors I’m percolating about a famous series that Picasso did in which he riffed on a famous piece by Velasquez which involved mirrors. V. painted the Spanish royal family but in the painting he is visible in a mirror that in turn reflects people coming into the room where the painting is being painted – so metafiction/postmodernism (thus yet another point against reactionary goobers like J.Peterson who blah blah about “French intellectuals in the 60s”) but the painting reflects (sic!) the impact of mirrors and refined glass.

        And your point bout the growing middle class being able to afford them reminded me of a famous painting from Holland – the Arnolfini Portrait – from the 15th – there’s a lot of scholarly debate about it’s meaning but it involves mirrors (my personal theory is that it was part of an insurance scam – no really – the Florentine merchants had agents in Holland handling the dye trade and the painting was used to prove the widow depicted was entitled to a pension from a fund the Peruzi and the Bardi had established – anyhow long story short the painting make use of a mirror as a central element and of course for a painter as for many people mirrors were almost “magical.”

        So, almost done with the Camus bio then it’s time to set the way back machine for 17th century Holland and England.

        To be continued!

        Like

      5. There are numerous books on the connections between East and West in the ancient world, including specific influences between Buddhists and Greeks. I also come across bits of info in a variety of sources, such as a book by D.M. Murdock that mentioned a Buddhist monastery during Jesus’ life located right around where he was preaching. The Roman Empire, of course, included a wide diversity of people (e.g., Hindus). The same thing was true in the Alexandrian Empire. But even before that, the Greek city-states had formed a league that allowed long distance travel and trade. Many famous ‘Greek’ thinkers weren’t even ethnically Greek.

        Later on, in places like China, it was the Jesuits who were the intellectual and scientific emissaries. Many of the Jesuit missionaries were scientists and translators. Besides bringing Eastern texts back to Europe, they would have worked with such things as lenses. Many of them were great mathematicians as well. Christians during that era were obsessed with observing and measuring God’s Creation. But because of the Christian tradition of close textual analysis and translation, missionaries became a major force in flooding the Western world with non-Western texts and ideas. For example, one of the books Henry David Thoreau brought with him to Walden was the Bhagadvadv Gita. Earlier than that, Thomas Jefferson had some Eastern texts in his personal library.

        There could be all kinds of routes of transmission of ideas, themes, and patterns of thoughts. It’s long been noted in comparative religious studies, astrotheology, archaeoastronomy, depth psychology, etc that there are common elements to diverse religions. Some of that might be built into the human psyche as it evolved with a common natural environment (seasons, stars, etc), but much of it had to have come from cross-cultural influences and shifts. The stories of Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, etc have a lot of similarities and in many cases they were borrowing from similar sources.

        Zoroastrianism, for example, was a major influence on pretty much every religion East and West; and the Zoroastrian Persians were in contact with India and Greece. Egypt also was a major intermediary, having been a main influence on Greece and maybe one of the earliest pathways introducing Indian thought, such as for Pythagoras who visited Egypt. We know that the ancient Jews built their entire religion from the religions they were surrounded by and some of those religions were part of geographically extensive traditions that were archaic, from Persia to Babylon. This shouldn’t be hard to understand considering not only the long-distance travel and trade from the Bronze Age to the Axial Age but also multiple refugee crises that caused entire populations to migrate vast distances.

        There are tons of online articles about all of this. But there are also some relevant books, most but not all of them being academic scholarship. I’ll share what I found below, including a few related topics.

        https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/01/buddha-birth-archaeology-nepal-durham
        http://www.truthbeknown.com/buddha.htm
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greco-Buddhism
        https://www.ancient.eu/article/208/cultural-links-between-india–the-greco-roman-worl/
        http://www.historydisclosure.com/greco-buddhism-unknown-influence-greeks/
        http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/aot/aot/aot04.htm
        http://hub.hku.hk/handle/10722/253064
        https://thebuddhistcentre.com/westernbuddhistreview/pyrrho-and-buddha-reasons-be-sceptical
        http://astrofrelat.fcaglp.unlp.edu.ar/filosofia_cientifica/media/papers/Romero-Presocratic_and_Buddhist_Cosmologies.pdf
        https://politicalanimalmagazine.com/heart-mind-cosmos/
        https://buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/2801/is-there-evidence-of-a-buddhist-influence-on-greek-stoicism

        https://www.academia.edu/7373908/Silence_East_and_West_Heraclitus_Parmenides_and_Buddha_in_light_of_Serracino_Inglotts_Philosophy_of_Language
        https://www.albany.edu/~rn774/fall96/philos.html

        “There is a historic fact that may have to do with the beginning of Western thought: in the period between Homer (ca. 700 BC) and the Presocratics, the many Greek city-states were giving themselves written laws, constitutions. We can view the thought of the Presocratics as an attempt to write down the laws governing the cosmos, the ordered universe which they likened to an enormous city-state, and we can view these laws as an attempt at a solution to the difficulties arising from trying to think the concept of not-being.”

        Greek Buddha: Pyrrho’s Encounter with Early Buddhism in Central Asia
        By Christopher I. Beckwith

        Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism
        By Adrian Kuzminski

        Heraclitus and the Buddha: Approaching Truth in Early Greek and Early Buddhist Thinking
        By Christina Partsalaki

        Greeks and Buddhism: An Intercultural Encounter
        By Demetrios Vassiliades

        The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies
        By Thomas McEvilley

        Indian Origin of Greece and Ancient World: E. Pococke’ Thesis ‘Indian in Greece Revised and Re-edited
        By Pococke, E and Dr. Ravi Prakash Arya

        The Greeks in Bactria and India
        By William Woodthorpe Tarn

        The Greeks in India: a survey in philosophical understanding
        Front Cover
        By Demetrios Theodossios Vassiliades

        Religions and Trade: Religious Formation, Transformation and Cross-Cultural Exchange Between East and West
        By Peter Wick and Volker Rabens

        A History of Indian Buddhism: From Śākyamuni to Early Mahāyāna
        By Akira Hirakawa (pp. 228-239)

        The Buddha from Babylon: The Lost History and Cosmic Vision of Siddhartha Gautama Kindle Edition
        By Harvey Kraft

        Was Jesus Influenced by Buddhism?
        By E. W. Sprague, Dwight Goddard

        About loops, that does cut to the heart of the matter. There is something threatening in the possibility that our world isn’t as linear as we’d like to believe. The hope based on this belief that as individuals and as a species we might escape the past: salvation, end times, evolution, genetic engineering, space colonization, etc. But what if we continue to repeat what came before because it never left us? We can’t escape ourselves. That is why ‘revolution’ as cyclical/circular might be itself be revolutionary in our modern society.

        “The repetition inherent in text is really a striking idea! The text as both answer to anxiety and cause of anxiety? Perhaps connected to the compulsion to declare theories definitive – thus eliminating the need to read another text?”

        Good questions.

        Texts when first written make claims of originality or else get portrayed that way (e.g., Homer), even when they are part of ancient oral traditions (was there ever a single Homer that came up with anything original or was it a slow development of multiple oral traditions that were merged and then frozen in textual form?). The last text can claim to be the last word, that is to say definitive and hence unquestionable (e.g., a diverse oral tradition written down in highly altered and edited form as the Old Testament by a priesthood seeking to justify their own power).

        Then, once written, the reading experience is a repetition. Originality or pseudo-originality is something the reader can only experience vicariously and passively (similar to how miracles only happened in the past and everyone after must rely on the written accounts, something the Piraha by the way didn’t find compelling and convincing). There is something strange about that.

        “The Piraha is extraordinary in and of itself but in Jaynesian terms really mind blowing (pun intended;-))”

        The Piraha are interesting in so many ways. They lack Chomskyan recursion, along with lacking much precise language for numbers and colors, and lack storytelling and artistic traditions, not even having a religious system or belief in an afterlife. Yet they are an extremely stable culture that resists influence, despite centuries of contact and missionary zeal.

        Even among other indigenous cultures, the Piraha stand out. It is uncertain what this implies, possibly there once were more tribes like them prior to all the genocides. Tribes that survived into modernity might not be representative of most tribes prior to modernity. If the Spanish Conquistadors had managed to get a hold of the Piraha, they wouldn’t be around today for us to know about.

        “Re: Post bi-cameralism and anxiety. I have considered the trial of Socrates to be an example of that but recently read that there were a series similar heresy trials in a kind of “witch hunt” atmosphere. My guess is that it was a transitional phase in which pre and post bi-cameral minds were clashing. I wrote a paper on that years ago that I’ll have to dig up but the details of the rituals in Athens, etc are revealing. It does suggest a transition perhaps as you say Axial.”

        I would assume there was a long transition period. There is evidence that bicameralism survived in pockets into the Axial Age. The Bible indicates that multiple times the new authorities had to systematically wipe out the last traces, including killing any child that heard voices.Here is what they did with bicameral children in the ancient Kingdom of Judah, according to the prophet Zechariah (6th century BCE):

        “And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the LORD: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth.”

        Killing off the last remnants of the bicameral mind was a bloody activity, but it had to be done for the good of society. The spokesmen for the new God of the book demanded it. Only official prophets and priests were allowed to speak on God’s behalf, so said the official prophets and priests.

        All that you mentioned about mirrors could go off in many directions. Mirrors have long fascinated humans, which is several millennia at this point. Seeing a vague reflection in water isn’t the same as a clear image in a mirror. I know the potential power of mirrors from my experience of once looking into a mirror the first time I took LSD — good God! — I laughed and laughed, my image was the funniest thing I ever saw, cathartic to say the least.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. rauldukeblog says:

        Thnaks! a veritable treasure trove of material.

        I was aware of the various connections but hadn’t dug deeply enough to pull up texts, etc.

        Re: fear/anxiety of repetition: the Christian assault on paganism included attempts to ban divination/astrology and rituals not just of paganism generally but to eliminate any sense of a cyclical existence.

        “Here is what they did with bicameral children in the ancient Kingdom of Judah, according to the prophet Zechariah (6th century BCE):
        “And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the LORD: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth.”

        The bible quote is extraordinary! While it might also be a response to hat we would now label psychological issues (assorted dementias) it clearly has a ring to it of an anti-bicameralism violence and fits in with the “Trial of Socrates” narrative and 6th century BCE fits the time line perfectly!

        The Athenians were more “civilized” about it but of course it’s still state sanctioned murder and suppression of “subversion.”

        Re: Mirrors. For me it was shrooms but essentially the same – the “cleansing of the doors of perception.”!;-)

        More to follow – back to end of Camus then into the Dutch/Brit and mirrors!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Let me extend the metaphor. The sewer rat obviously would mutate into a Zen master. And then he will train a brotherhood of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to fight the supervillains and their henchmen. Right?

    I was just now imagining an Ayn Rand spin on this with a new criptocurrency elite hiding out in the sewers. They will build a technological utopia hidden away from the statists. We will call them C.H.U.D. — Cryptocurrency Humanoid Underground Dwellers.

    Brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. rauldukeblog says:

      Yes!!! Pure genius! Get Marvel on the phone!

      Though with both humor and seriousness you could/should write it up and think of it in the format of a graphic novel. I am completely serious. Someone like Zero Books or someone like that would probably be interested.

      Like

      1. It would require a lot more fleshing out. And I could imagine the copyright minefield it would pose. I’m not sure how much satire can get away with these days without threats of legal repercussions and possibly financial costs. If the world was a different place (e.g., I didn’t have to work a crappy to keep from being homeless and starving), there are all kinds of things I’d love to do with my time and talents.

        Like

      2. rauldukeblog says:

        All valid concerns but I’d urge (as time and energy allow) investigation. It’s a great idea – timely and interesting.

        Like

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