Somewhat embarrassingly, I still find myself tussling with Bratton. He seems constantly to be building straw dogs to knock down. (Don't we all!) Boomers are responsible over the inflexion year of 1968 for distrust in authority, and in our Foucauldian slide away from rational governance. Populism is a symptom of our retreat from rationality. Of course, my mind is not sufficiently academic to properly document it all.
Bratton seems to disparage every earnest wish for any return to normal, since normal is the thing we have to get away from. And we can't do it by a change of attitude, mainly because there just isn't time for that magic sauce to do its trick.
But "normal" is to be in History, and not beyond it. But maybe that's wrong. Maybe this could be the first time we've ever had the chance to be normal, in the sense that any living thing can be normal. For an instant.
Who knows if it was like the snow in winter in Buffalo when you're only as tall as a newly conscious five-year old, but I was always taught history as though we were somehow beyond it. The caste system in India, the superstitions of non-Christians, the beautiful primitive of native Americans, and most of all the pristine beauty of nature without us. That from which we have arisen.
But really, what was being preached was a kind of apotheosis of each and every individual, mainly because that's how our late capitalist economy works. We have raised the individual up to heaven like a flag up a pole, and no wonder we still have to identify with superstars of all stripes. Jesus Fucking Christ!
Jeans were once a way to blend in, like the freak flag of unkempt hair. Now we streak our hair with green, say, which is sometimes to lodge a protest about those with the money to sculpt their bodies and fill out designer jeans in just the right way, and sometimes as a kind of offset to how absolutely gorgeous we actually are.
Let's say some NFL designer body has taken steroids and other medications A(gainst) M(edical) A(dvice), and is (therefore?) now worth something north of a quarter billion dollars on contract and won't take any vaccine against the 'rona. Now isn't that like mass-murder?
Well, no, not exactly. It's just stupid, like Trump is stupid, like my friend who won't talk to me anymore is stupid calling RBG a mass-murderer. And I told him so. So I'll be damned.
What if our history now is coming to proper terms that guilt and innocence are never so easy to assign. The liar paradox is only a paradox if you can't distinguish between good and bad lies. If you can't find the continuum between. Like Zeno's paradox dissolves once you realize that all boundaries are fractal and dynamic. Probability waves collapse.
Say, when people actually believe that race is part of some great chain of being, and when fighting and killing and bloodletting was pretty-much universal and something women hardly ever did, but often aided and abetted. We are beyond the easy answers of motivated history. We're deep in it now and again forevermore.
Even though and as and while she exposes deep duplicity in the profit models of "surveillance capitalism," I get why Bratton thinks Shoshana Zuboff is stuck in the wrong paradigm, defending individual privacy which is now the problem and not something to be worshipped anymore.
But Bratton too is stuck within an obsolete paradigm, where agency relates to crafting our future according to rational principles. Agency never did do that. Agency is the emotively powered reaction to things which remind us of other things that have already happened for which ratiocination is never quick enough.
Collectively also, we will never be quick enough to react to the ever so comfortably rising temperature of our froggie bath. We will respond to the wrong stimulus after it's already too late. That's what it means to be conscious and evolving. Conscious evolution has never happened and never will.
Of course we must mystify the brain. There is a straight line from Plato through Christianity whereby humans embody an idealized self in the nature of an eternal soul which distinguishes us from all other creatures . . . a straight line to our mystification of the human brain.
We think that history is progressive. China thought that history was authoritative, and they edited it to make it so. And then history went in cycles, no God required.
Scientists look for quantum explanations and structural specificity to the brain on the order of computational reality (which means logical reality, where there is also no completeness) in just the way that Bratton looks for solutions in the form of governance structures. As though humanity is that distinct. Perhaps because we've built this brave new computational overlay to the earth.
As predicted by Hopi prophecy, 'a web will cover the earth' and stupid humans will take credit for it. Like those paper wasps so proud of their hive that Kinsey deconstructed. There are no ideal types. There can be no pride in what just happens, because it's part of what you are.
I know that I wear my secrets on my face, and with Bratton, I know that masks have the dual function to reveal and to conceal (if there really is such a thing as choice). But if you know me well enough then you share enough of my world to know what I'm thinking and I can see it in your shaded reaction too.
It's not attitudes which must and will change. It's the science, stupid! Our minds are hardly more individual than our faces are. They exist at all only because of the shared outerances of words, just as the face depends on commonality of eyes ears nose mouth and never mind how identical all private parts are. I know you at a glance, and your thoughts are not so far behind.
Sure you must be able to recognize me as distinct - as individual - but that's what naming means. It's naming where emotion and perception, conception and force, come together as something new for the cosmos. Naming is that powerful. That emotive. It is always a mistake to put a Name to any godhead. That's emotion as a nuclear power. Something never to be deployed, once properly understood.
So, you know, what if millenarianism (technological or religious, makes no difference) and scientism and mysticisms of all sorts and even Q-Anonymity are all no less wrong than the others. What if there really just plain isn't a right way forward, and what if your certainty is not helping, whoever you are, and whatever you are certain of.
The necessary shifts will come (or not) when the veils fall from our collective minds because the science has shifted. In just the way that the magical thinking of exceptionalist USA did, in fact, get us the vaccine and distributed it nearly in time, and now even the deniers are coming around to the real, maybe.
Or in other words, our brand of economic radical individualism is what's killing us and always has been. Money acts precisely as a virus against our moral operations. We can't help but buy that car against our future. I have no idea if it's adjusted pennies or absolute pennies, but I have it on high authority that stagecoaches cost more per mile than my first car did. That's what economy means.
So long as the oil keeps pumping.
So what's science got to do with it? It is scientifically already obvious that we can't exist as the absolutist individuals which objectivity requires. We are embedded and responsible for that. We are embedded not just in history, but in the science which would explain the world as if without us, which is the most important remaining fiction of our straight-line history. Starting with God as Creator.
What a concept!