Wednesday, January 22, 2020


I'm still trying to understand Benjamin H. Bratton. It's good exercise, and makes reading Chinese feel like a stroll in the park. I think I've finally pinpointed what might be my disagreement with him. He tortures distinctions between "natural" and "artificial" in ways that I can't follow. I agree with him that the distinctions are themselves artificial, but in my case the fallacy is more like the mind/body distinction fallacy than it is one between agency and not.

He tries to understand the artificial as being evident by a regularity of pattern which distinguished that which is created by agency from that which is evolved more naturally. But I think he slides over the matter of intentionality when he tries to pull global warming into the side of notable artificial constructs.

Sure, it's clear that the identification of global warming as a man-made problem is itself the result of man-made instrumentation to identify the phenomena. The phenomenon of global warming is surely an artificial construct in that sense. But it's not clear to me that such instrumentation can distinguish between the "nature" of global warming and the nature of any kind of weather or climate disturbance, whether caused by man or by an asteroid hit or by volcanic eruption.

Sliding over intentionality as the prior "cause" for agency already loses the entire red team.

I'm reasonably sovereign over my body, though some combination of chance and bad habits may turn it against "me," perhaps in the form of disease. Disease is surely a natural process, but if I'm a smoker then my agency in my own disease is evident enough, right? But the disease doesn't become artificial thereby. And I may wish I didn't smoke, even as I do.

I've also discovered that I like to be sovereign in my own household. I don't mind apartment rental too much, but I sure wouldn't enjoy being imprisoned. Perhaps family is defined by the extent to which it is OK to share with others those things I've built and purchased. Love is the bond. There are close friends who don't treat things as I'd prefer, and lacking sanction authority over them I find it hard to have them inside my household.

They must act as guests, of course, and the time-frame for that must be strictly limited. Stretch it out and guest might become slave. Shared ownership is a recipe for internecine warfare. Trust me, I know this.

It's at the level of the state that sovereignty is now invaded by a disease process. My own nation has started to appear evil to me. I've always understood the dark side, but now we seem positively defined by darkness. We seem a force for evil on the planet. I believe that the cause for this is nothing more complicated than the infection of the body politic by the life-force of money. And those who control the money are in charge.

Their belief structure is no more complex than Trump's. The more I have the better and there is no meaning to life so therefore there is no meaning beyond my own life.Weird that religious Christians have glommed onto this. But then my God is Irony, so it's not so weird that Christians believe in man-made law now.

Of course those with the money have always been in charge, but the structure of our national mythology kept it believable and kept the nation as symbolic entity worthy of my belonging and even my willingness to die, if not to kill, for that sovereign; almost to the extent that I would die and probably kill for my family.

And so, of course and "naturally" we are concerned with the rights of women within family and workplace to call out betrayals and crimes against them. We are concerned about the rights of non-gender binary types and transgendered and homosexuals. This is all even while our workplaces become more and more like tyrannical organizations, especially as they get larger.

These are all natural developments, and I would agree with Bratton that we should and must do everything within our power to redress the wrongs of our carelessness and irresponsibility which has allowed such criminal discrimination and attempts at autocracy at the level of the state to bring down "my" nation by such disease.

To stop smoking at that level must surely be a wilful act. Such will is the natural response of an embattled sovereign. The road to the good health of the sovereign is not so complicated as we would make it out to be.

Sure there may be unintended consequences to medical interventions, especially as these are mediated by money. But that doesn't  mean that our technologically mediated ability to diagnose and treat disease is itself any more artificial than what our immune system does on our behalf.

It's interesting to me that the newly resurgent "corona" virus is blamed on a transgression from wild to caged in the "wild animal" markets of WuHan, China.  Perhaps that truly is the divide that vegans should be concerned with. Not hunting. Not raising the unnatural domesticated animals for human consumption. But caging wild things.

It's in the zeitgeist, of course, for young Harry and Meghan to feel imprisoned by the palace. They want to feel human, too, and the institution of the monarchy is as anachronistic as bleeding cures for consumption.

I guess I'm a capitalist at scale (meaning small and local) and a socialist at the scale of national sovereignty. I'd really like to have our democracy back, according to a renewed mythology that I can believe in.

Wouldn't we all?

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