Underestimating the Adversary: Point-Counter-Point on 16 Maps of Hell with Greg Desilet

Disclaimer: Greg Desilet, who turns 71 the day I write this, is an elder. As such I wish to extend both my appreciation and respect for his greater experience, at least in terms of years on this earth. It is possible that in my still-impetuous “youth,” I may be tempted to steamroller over his insights.

What follows is my response to a (unpublished) 4,800-word review he wrote of 16 Maps of Hell and sent my way last week, and following a back-and-forth email discussion about it.

 

Designed & Engineered Control

Greg,

First of all, thanks for being so amenable to criticism—I will try and follow your example!—and for being open-hearted even when, in my view, so wrong-headed! Apologies in advance if some of this comes off as overly competitive; it’s not meant to be but on the other hand, I don’t want to mince words because it takes so much longer, at both ends!

My impression is that you have taken away from my book that which supports your own beliefs and rejected everything that would cause you to question them. The result is that you have split, not only the book but yourself (or at least your review), down the middle.

The review practices a species of doublethink which I find consistent with the overly academic victim-perpetrators of “critical theory” and its ever-multiplying spin-offs, that veer further and further into disembodied pseudo-wisdom at the cost of common sense. In this regard, postmodernism and New-Ageism are like bastard twins, one legitimate, the other illegitimate, but essentially bearing the same genetic features (Marxism & Theosophy arose during the same period and from the same place, curiously enough).

Concrete example? There is a line near the start of your review: “the high priests of this secular religion have been thoroughly exposed as sorcerers conjuring a dark spell and casting it across the entire expanse of consumers of popular film and culture.” This sounds more like early copy I wrote for the book than your own perspective, and sure enough, this early affirmation of the book’s thesis is thoroughly contradicted later on. It makes me wonder what you mean when you use the word “sorcery”? Rabbits out of hats—or something firmly confined to the realms of academia (i.e., metaphor)? If so, it is very (or subtly?) different to what 16 Maps is mapping.

You write, “Frighteningly enough, it’s difficult to argue with his diagnosis of the trauma and pathology currently befalling us as a species;” after which you find multiple ways to do just that. One of them—“These agencies themselves are symptoms rather than causes”—is something I agree with and state in the book. Yet you seem to want to extend this to suggesting that the symptoms don’t exist:

“But to imagine the influence they exert spreads out into the world with effects largely conforming to designed and engineered control exceeds anything that can be demonstrated.”

Hands of a clock may not create time; but they certainly do measure it, and thereby indicate a force (besides the cogs of the machine) moving them forward. Ditto with the symptoms that are not first-causes, yet nonetheless have some sort of effects, in line with whatever creates them (symptoms and disease are really one thing, not two). This is what the book sets out to demonstrate, as you affirmed in your opening paragraphs; if it failed, then so did the book.

The rest of your review seems like an attempt by its author to push away the awareness briefly let in by the book, by asserting opinions (they aren’t really arguments) about how the world works. Yet your worldview is disturbingly similar to the one my last few books attempt to undermine and invalidate, albeit with a bit of po-mo pseudo-mysticism thrown in.

Postmodernist art I had on my wall as an adolescent (because it’s the same as comic art)

*

For example:

My advice to the “imposers” Horsley mentions at the outset of his book as part of the circle of malign agents of ruin is: good luck! They will meet with as much success as the person trying to herd cats—especially so in a culture having grown increasingly enamored, since the Second World War, of the slogan “Don’t tread on me.”

It is hard for me to imagine a bigger miss of the book’s thesis. Where do you think a slogan like this came from? Are you really advocating the (manufactured) culture of rebellion, resistance, and revolution as the antidote to “patriarchy”? This is like telling us to trust the good cop to save us from the bad one.

At base of your position, as far as I can tell, seems to be a deep faith in evil (the irony!), i.e. in culture and the many Hydra-like institutions it creates to further its agendas, that this rough Borgian beast will somehow course-correct and become the instrument of our salvation and not our slavation. That you hold onto this faith either indicates that my book has failed, epically, to do its job, or that you failed, equally epically, to grok it (the two diagnoses are really one). To stay liminal, I’ll include some mysterious third option, that of a faith beyond despair that “everything that is, is holy.” I actually agree with this mystical point of view, but I suspect yours is closer to the postmodern counterfeit, that everything that is, is holey, i.e., wholly subjective, and therefore divorced from—unaccountable to—objective reality. This is the “satanic” credo, as championed by my brother: we are what we pretend to be, and the clothes (culture) maketh the man.

I think this is also suggested by your use of the word “cynical” in our email exchange to describe my own perspective. I don’t experience it that way, not primarily at any rate. The key difference, maybe, is that I never fully believed in the emperor’s new clothes (culture) to begin with, and that what you call cynical is for me a process of liberation. I don’t feel overly bitter or disappointed by the realization that all my heroes and objects of worship are compromised or by the realization I will never enter their manufactured pantheon. I am willing to toss baby out with the bathwater, when all the signs suggest it died long ago.

The irony for me is that you have written what you think of as a positive review of the book while rejecting its thesis and its raison d’être, even to the point of coming to the defense of a Leonard Cohen or a Kirk Douglas (calling on the language of courts, i.e., institutions, to do so), and (by implication, somewhat paradoxically) the whole #MeToo cancel culture. Does Greg’s left hand know what his right is up to, I wonder?

You would prefer me to “make [my] case by focusing entirely on the products of this culture without diving into the stories, whether confirmed or unconfirmed, of the makers of the products.” In other words, go back to being a film critic and leave off trying to be a psychosocial historian! You say that “The products themselves are incriminating enough, as Horsley is well aware (by their products ye shall know them!).” But we have already seen (you and I, in previous discussions) that critical acumen + personal taste is insufficient as a tool to discern the healthiness or unhealthiness of cultural product, whether it’s art or exploitation, or (as 16 Maps argues) both in one. You want to reject (and invert) my whole approach, which is that to know the fruit, tasting it is not enough: we have to study the whole tree.

Sick and Dazed

“These products function as the delivery system for a range of effects, working in concert, to strip consumers of faculties necessary for healthy community.”

That’s an accurate summation of one of my central arguments; but when you add: “The more genuine substance of Horsley’s book emerges through his diagnosis of the disease-carrying contents of current entertainment products rather than through the salacious tabloid exposures of Hollywood operators and celebrities and their shocking crimes”—your desire to separate the two is a desire to divorce my arguments from objective reality. (Very postmodernist of you, no doubt.)

Another concrete example:

“A small minority of particularly vulnerable individuals within a community or society may succumb to such effects with devastating consequences, as in the case of the shooter in the Aurora, Colorado, theater tragedy and other mass shootings.”

Here you are conveniently ignoring—out of a cognitive bias against conspiracy—the evidence of government deception and manipulation around this incident, i.e., that it was (in the lingo) almost indubitably a psyop. You are playing solitaire with half a deck and filling in the blanks with winning cards. As long as my argument remains abstract, general, and impersonal, you are in agreement with it; but when it comes to the down and dirty details, where the devil is, you start to gag on the gristle. You lack the stomach for the meatier parts of this book—understandably, since others have said it left them feeling sick and dazed.

Here’s a response I received (solicited) from another reader, a longtime follower of my work with his own laboratorium:

Actually easy reading until chapter 11+12 when the full weight of the thing crashes upon the reader. tea breaks were taken. the woods we walked in. had to wait a day or two before I picked it up again.

[I asked for clarification]

With an exception of the Epstein case study, up until chapter 10 most if not all of the book is about “past” events and, ahem “stars”—your Hitchcock, Nicholson, Polanski, Manson, etc. I feel like I have been completely desensitized to these events and people from 37 years of media rotting in my guts. But something happens, maybe it’s at the start of book two…

Detour: book one felt like a “review” which allowed the joys of reading to be foremost in my experience of the book. body related. am I comfortable ? is there too much honey in my tea ? how are my posture and breath ? .. all that

right, back to book two: I felt like I stepped out of the forgetting chamber (a body perhaps akin to an ether body or something, but in no way spiritual or good, this was a fake-energy body of mine that I sometimes could feel resisting the reading of book two. Meaning I couldn’t find a spot to read or get comfortable, the tea was never right, etc.) That chamber/body allowed me to “forget” all these things about film/society/myself (and the events of book one) that I know are poison to the/my spirit. But the events in book two become “current” and I started to have this visceral sense that “the empire never ended and people (myself included) will fight to keep it alive both in themselves and outside of themselves,” and I couldn’t help but FEEL that anti-humanness of this empire and that it was the motivator of some of my actions (thankfully not many) in the world. There is a sense of the species on the tracks, running towards a speeding train and I can’t stop it and not only that, part of me wants to run with them.

Now that‘s a review (a pure visceral response)!

*

Desilet writes:

“Horsley fails to mention, in the course of presenting a host of celebrity crimes and ensuing punishments, the significance of the downfall of these perpetrators. This list includes names such as: Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, Michael Jackson, Kevin Spacey, Gary Goddard, Alfred Hitchcock, Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, etc.”

Horsley doesn’t fail to mention it, he just doesn’t believe in it. The book refers to the significance of this theater of blame, and speculates how it suggests industry infighting. But to argue that it implies an actual clean-up or accounting of the superculture depends on a faulty reading of events, and of history itself. Of the above list, for example, only half (Weinstein, Epstein, Spacey, Goddard) underwent any kind of a downfall, while the others are still making films and/or—if dead—firmly established in the canon. But even if they had been dethroned/redacted, there are no lasting consequences for the industry itself. And even if there were, there is no sign of a positive shift within the culture at large.

Unless, that is, you are of the mindset that #MeToo or #BLM are not every bit as cynically manipulated social engineering psyop as any Hollywood product. (A can of worms the book does not dig into.) The above quote from your review is why I described (in our email exchange) your postmodernist, deconstructive viewpoint as Pollyannaish, making it a first cousin, once-removed of New Age positivist affirmation. It lacks tarmac to test or prove it is even rubber, existing in a self-congratulating, ideologically constructed vacuum.

Concrete example: the mystical ditty you shared in our email exchange, “there is no end—ever.” We both know that Greg’s life will end, Jasun’s life will end, and that humanity itself will end, sooner or later. The when, where, how, and why of it may yet be indeterminate, but surely this only underscores the urgency for a real accounting, one which (I feel) your reading of 16 Maps of Hell manages to dodge by not acknowledging the extent of effective colonization and control—and conscious design—at work in the world and in our lives (what I call sorcery).

Instead, the Pollyanna in you wants to insist that “gains can be made in radically altering that culture by continuing to apply the pressure of critique, dissent, and boycott to the core of its entrenched unethical and destructive practices.”

Can they? I would say that individuals can become more aware, over time, in their own lives; that they/we can start to assume responsibility for our choices, certainly. But that trying to extend this awakening from the nightmare of culture into a refurnishing of the nightmare is a way to continue to consent to its hold over us and demonstrates just how little we have awoken.  Desilet’s solution is part of Horsley’s desolation.

You conclude: “the power Horsley ascribes to the ‘blood poets’ of cinema may be significantly oversized.”

I think I am understating it, precisely to get past the defenses of readers such as yourself, and to avoid sensationalizing the subject. And once again, your statement is directly opposed to ones made at the start of the review, as well as to the thesis of the book.

Are we lost in the eternal sunshine of Desilet’s mind?

Corruption Unannounced

You write:

In the realm of entertainment, subversive power dominates established power when subversive art content and its medium present a new, unusual, and unanticipated quality experienced as sweepingly life-enhancing difference. This experience of quality through the introduction of a life-enhancing difference bends the trajectory of culture in ways exceeding anything established culture can control or stem. This is why art, in every form, has always led culture and why technology and the medium, despite the capacity to transform the environment, remain ultimately subordinate to art and its content. 

TL;DR: Subversive art overcomes everything and human culture is led by the artists. It’s hard for me to imagine a claim more at odds with the book’s thesis than this one. The irony of it appearing in a positive review of the book positively makes my head spin. It also makes me wonder, if this is your view, what you have been railing against in your own books and why you write cultural criticism at all. If subversive (good) art has always led culture, what’s the problem? Why not tend your garden and sit back and enjoy the show? After all, we already have the world we have always wanted, a world shaped and led by sweepingly life-enhancing subversive artists. . .

In case there was any doubt, the flip side of Pollyanna’s promise: “Co-opting art to serve political or military or corporate ends will always fail.”

Except that, so far, it hasn’t. Unless we are already in the best of all possible worlds, or soon to be?

Desilet: “corruption eventually announces its corruption.”

Except that, Desilet still believes the corpse of culture is alive and well; so clearly, it doesn’t.

“This optimistic view may sound naïve” [It sounds deluded to me, call me a cynic] but history demonstrates again and again how decadence and corruption repeatedly succumb to the quality of life-enhancing difference.”

I am confused. I thought part of the postmodernist view was that history demonstrates again and again how the patriarchy abuses power endlessly to exploit and undermine the weak? But maybe that’s post-postmodernism; let’s not get distracted.

“Even where it may be asked: how can that which is genuinely life-enhancing be reliably identified? the answer remains as simple as asking how may fresh air, clean water, or healthy food be identified? One knows soon enough.”

Then why are so few people taking fresh air, drinking clean water, or eating healthy food these days?

“as Nietzsche once said. . .” (Is Nietzsche Greg’s idea of a life-enhancing artist?)

“will the media of technology inevitably overwhelm the content of art by eventually succeeding in creating toxic environments altering human nature beyond recognition or transforming the global landscape beyond what can support human life?”

Eventually? The use of future tense indicates you may be living in the past, Greg. What if humanity is already done and dusted and all that remains is the sweep-up? That would make this sort of naïve optimism potentially fatal, for you and your loved ones.

“Nature may still take wrong turns in tinkering with life, as is evident in crippling mutations that leave an organism vulnerable and sometimes incapacitated in the drama of survival. But Nature overcomes these wrong turns as the life-force continues with natural course corrections thwarting predictions of doom. The human task is to give life its best chance and that begins by keeping this planet not merely habitable but optimally habitable.”

I think I spy a hint of the social engineer/utopianist in Desilet here, one who perhaps believes (for example) that Donald Trump is a bad president who needs to be removed from power even if it can only be done through fraud and deceit (just say), because, let’s face it, there are too many crippling mutations among the American people right now and the majority don’t know what’s good for them anymore. Am I wrong?

Surely the human task is to not to save the planet but to become fully aware of what it means to be human? In my life, this involves becoming fully aware of everything that has cut us off from our humanness (ancestry)—also known as “mapping Hell.” Mapping hell and creating heaven on earth are not complementary. They may even be mutually exclusive, at least if we try and put the cart before the mule.

Blinded Minds

“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.” (Corinthians 4:4)

My guess Greg—and it’s just a guess, human beings are complex and many-faceted, and I have my own blind spots—is that you have failed to spy the hidden perpetrator which 16 Maps aims to identify, namely: ideology. Central to ideology is the belief in culture and in human industry and effort (the power of the mind) as a positive force for reshaping the world in man’s image. Isn’t postmodernism just that: everything is to be deconstructed except—since something must remain in order for the whole endeavor not to come unraveled—identity? (For more about how ideology and things like critical race theory work to coopt the life force, see “The Social Revenge Fantasist: Scapegoating Patriarchy, Generational Trauma, & the Identity Police State.”)

There is surely a middle way, between art as a Trojan Horse for malevolent, soul-possessing, latah-making hungry ghosts, and art as the only thing that will save us? I am aware that I have my own unresolved issues around this (that’s the central subject of 16 Maps of Hell). I am aware that I suffer from divided cognition (as encapsulated in the Montaigne quote that opens the book) and that it may strike a dissonant note through the text, and in the reader’s psyche. It’s possible Desilet is picking up on this, and trying to point it out; if so, it’s unfortunate that he may be falling back on his own set of beliefs to do so, which is like fighting fire with gasoline.

To clarify: I am not trying to argue with 16 Maps that art, or even propaganda, have led us into the current mess we are in. Only to state that it is inarguable that neither the best efforts nor the best intentions—of greater artists than Desilet or Horsley will ever be—have prevented us from arriving where we are currently situated, in Hell, on the brink of self-destruction.

“The whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (John 5:19)

I don’t present this as evidence of the limitations of art, but of how even the highest forms of art are revealed, or somehow reconfigured—into culture—as compatible with the machinations of darker forces. The human-ancestral unconscious may be the deepest mappable layer of this drive to destruction, but I suspect there’s a deeper one still, a fundamentally anti-life force that only religion—not yet science, psychology, or philosophy—has identified. If so, it doesn’t really matter how high the culture or how fine the art, because none of it digs deep enough to uncover, much less address or resolve, the core problem.

In this light (or dark), it is odd to me that Greg quotes Marshall McLuhan, as quoted in 16 Maps, approvingly:

“Electric information environments, being utterly ethereal, foster the illusion of the world as a spiritual substance . . . a reasonable facsimile of the mystical body, a blatant manifestation of the Anti-Christ.”

The core issue, in my estimation, is neither the culture nor the culture makers, but that which drives both and makes a superculture. Desilet seems to wish to believe that this mysterious anti-life force is neither seeing nor intelligent, hence of no significant threat to human destiny. If we replace human destiny with spirit, I might be open to agreement, with the latter part at least. (And even with the first part, if we say that this anti-life force is blind and unintelligent to spiritual reality.)

But, at the level at which Desilet is positing intelligence and agency—as something average humans possess—I would say he is being falsely optimistic, and that he is quite drastically outmatched in his dismissal of a real (pre-postmodern) Adversary. This may be why he downplays in his review—and in his worldview—the evidence, whether represented by military psyop, programmed serial killers, Hollywood sorcerers, or Jimmy Savile and Jeffrey Epstein, of malevolence operating at the highest, deepest institutional (and ideological) levels of human society and culture, and that it is central to determining the shape, substance, and direction of it, and of humanity entire.

And finally, a profound irony

Greg Desilet admires my work (specifically Seen & Not Seen, Prisoner of Infinity, and now 16 Maps of Hell; he skipped over Dark Oasis and Vice of Kings due to his work load). He wants to support it and encourage others to read it. He even gave me a blurb, about how I write “books that everyone should read.”

So when he argues that there is a positive sort of creativity, and aspect to culture, that not only can but does transform the bad (roughly), presumably this is the perspective from which he is reviewing, and praising, my own work. Presumably, this is also the context he is hoping to place it in, and obviously I would like to believe this. Except that, to do so, I would have to reject my own thesis! Paradox, conundrum, Catch 22, cognitive dissonance galore.

Here’s a possibility: maybe when I am being so hard on (rigorous with) the arts, I am also being unnecessarily, compulsively, hard on myself? I still watch movies and TV shows, after all. Lately, a day does not go by in which I don’t anticipate doing so and then wrestle masochistically with the creeping awareness of my unredeemed, possibly irredeemable, hypocrisy, like a tongue drawn irresistibly to an infected tooth.

Maybe what Greg is really saying is, “Give yourself some credit, man! You are the proof that not everything that comes out of culture is bad!” Maybe he is trying to give me the father’s blessing I never got? Trouble is, a blessing doesn’t work if it’s predicated on a misreading of my offering.

In the current context, for simplicity’s sake, the thesis is this: any artist or artwork widely known enough to have reached you—by anything but the most serendipitous and local of means (any food produce that’s available in the supermarket)—is compromised. If you can’t trace the breadcrumbs that led you to it (me) back to their source, chances are you have been hoodwinked and hijacked into believing something untrue, and the “art” you are imbibing is in service of superculture.

This doesn’t mean we have to condemn it or reject it; only that we can, and must, start to withdraw our consent to make it central in our definitions of reality. We must recognize that such cultural products are not free of pesticides and military-designed additives, chemicals that, if they don’t neutralize any nutritional qualities they may have, certainly diminish them drastically. These things may not be part of the problem, per se, butdivorced from the human community of direct and spontaneous creative interactionthey are definitely not part of the solution.

Like a bar code on an apple, these cultural arty-facts carry the mark of the parapolitical (and metaphysical) machinery that carried them to us. They are delivery devices not just for the Holy Spirit (which is in everything) but for Antichrist, perhaps most of all in how they reinforce the notion of a world out there that is somehow supporting us, that can save us, and that promises to lift us up to a place of sovereignty and specialness within it. (Sounds like the three temptations of Jesus.)

If I had a child (as I believe Greg does), I would be deeply concerned about how the weight of my unlived life as a Hollywood filmmaker (or a commercially successful writer) would bear down upon them and potentially cripple them. Perhaps exactly as the weight of my father’s desire to be a great writer and thinker still haunts and drives me into these strange ghost-dialogues with theoretical  minds?

Whatever the Bible says, words will not save us; but nor will images.

64 thoughts on “Underestimating the Adversary: Point-Counter-Point on 16 Maps of Hell with Greg Desilet”

  1. interesting, the Desilet chats #147.5 + #152 are classics

    Aeolus Kephas was on Red Ice, but I never saw this Jasun guy over there

    Reply
      • quote from above :
        “any artist or artwork widely known enough to have reached you is compromised”

        meaning RI
        meaning the Aeolus Kephas persona
        or like, that part of you that wanted to be widely known
        that part of you was compromised

        just spitballing here

        Reply
        • got it; some would say that Shaun Attwood brought me to them and he’s kind of mainstream; it’s a moving line, esp now in this weird window of social media celebrity.

          Reply
  2. A whole essay could be written about the evil of this statement alone:

    ““Even where it may be asked: how can that which is genuinely life-enhancing be reliably identified? the answer remains as simple as asking how may fresh air, clean water, or healthy food be identified? One knows soon enough.”

    The statement is appalling enough it is hard to even get near it, like trying to fight a fire.
    So, good job that you did Jasun, although there is so much embedded in just this statement you might want to return to it.

    Fundamentally the above is part of the now-popular argument that we do not need religion, which the trajectory of American society pretty handily disproves, as the massive surge of international violence, domestic impoverishment, addiction and mental illness closely track the expulsion of religious concepts from the schools and society. I’d say even environmental destruction is positively correlated, despite the rising awareness of environmental destruction and attempts to fight it.

    I do not know how many statements the Bible makes counter to the idea that one “learns soon enough,” but I can quote a few.

    I don’t mean to proselytize by doing this, but just to point out how crystal clear this understanding ought to be, (but no longer is) to anyone old enough to see how the long term results of choices come out in our lives, by pointing out just how very old this understanding is. Its almost a proof of our being poised on the brink of destruction, that we apparently have someone people in our moment look to for guidance, Desilet,
    who paradoxically does not understand that it is indeed not easy for humans to understand what is life-giving. If they did, why would they read Desilet?

    “”Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Note the suggestion here is not that you owe your parents, but that you
    will NOT “find out soon enough” what is life-giving by yourself, and without honoring the guidance of tradition, you won’t live long.

    Woman have a particularly hard experience of “old too soon, smart too late” in terms of not being about to “find out soon enough” what is life-giving–life of the spirit, what gives physical life they find out soon enough– without guidance.

    Proverbs 3:5-8 is clear:

    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
    6 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

    7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord and shun evil.
    8 This will bring health to your body
    and nourishment to your bones.”

    I notice you have included the sculpture of Ahriman, who is associated with coldness.
    Is it a coincidence that we’re having an attempted global role out of a vaccine, which will
    be transported at temperatures which are far colder than virtually all humans have ever
    encountered in their lives? (-94 F; -70 C)

    Of course Trump probably appeared motivated to himself in spending a billion dollars on
    vaccine development by chances of re-election, but Russia developed a normal, non- mRNA,
    no-super-refrigeration-needed version of a vaccine, and it appears what the vaccine was actually in a race with was an understanding of the physiological mechanisms of covid-19 so clear that the already not-very-lethal disease would have no need of a vaccine, as cheap effective treatment would take care of the tiny percentage of people seriously effected under age 50.

    Notice this recent, medical-specialist statement of how effective treatment was blocked in the US:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tq8SXOBy-4w

    Reply
    • you will NOT “find out soon enough” what is life-giving by yourself, and without honoring the guidance of tradition, you won’t live long.

      This is very on-point, being exactly inline for the current focus on honoring the ancestors in the Dave meets, recent & upcoming

      https://www.daveoshana.com/events/930-into-the-ancestral-whirlpool

      https://www.daveoshana.com/events/932-auditory-spirit-photography-capturing-what-is-seen-but-never-heard-an-immersive-workshop

      It does seem as if the redaction of religion (a postmodernist endeavor if ever there was one) is a subtext of the above post, or maybe it;s more overt than I realized or intended; it’s there in the title. Fear of Shaitan (the dark side of God) is the beginning of wisdom?

      Ironic that someone was recently banished from here for too much Christianizing. They may be chomping at their bit.

      Reply
      • The “guidance of tradition” taught me about nihilism, i.e., being raised Catholic. I sensed immediately as a child there was something deeply wrong with a religion that would teach first-graders the story of the crucifixion. The Irish nun teacher described every bloody detail on my first day. Including that the crucifixion was necessary because everyone was a sinner.

        “One knows soon enough” refers to knowing whether air, water, and food are safe based on what the body tells us. Hopefully before we consume enough to kill us. Similarly, “listening” with our hearts and minds will tell us whether cultural artifacts and practices are generally safe to “consume.” Often first impressions are most helpful. Culture and/or its products can be sickening or even deadly. But we sense this to be the case long before we become sick enough to die. This does require listening to the heart (body) and mind. They won’t lie.

        Reply
        • There was nothing religious or traditional in your sitting in a classroom full of 6 year olds, a factory farm for humans. I’m sorry you had that experience of
          the mass of trauma, embodied in your teacher’s lack of understanding of age appropriateness, and communicating her own distortion to you.

          Despite the near-ubiquity of distorted and unhealthy tradition, it remains the case that we do not learn “soon enough” what is life-giving especially once we are traumatized and in addiction.

          Reply
  3. This exchange had me wonder halfway through the text, why did you even bother. There seems to be an unbridgable abyss in your worldviews. However, even though I still haven’t read the book, it does iron out any possible misunderstandings regarding the book’s intent, tone and purpose. Great post.

    Reply
    • It’s always most worthwhile to “bother” when you sense an “unbridgeable” gap in world views. The skeptic must always reach out to the nihilist. And vice versa. Reaching across narrower gaps can be a bit boring.

      Reply
      • agreed; but aren’t skeptic & nihilist fairly close neighbors? (skeptic is actually a very broad definition; one can be devoutly religious, and certainly spiritual, and also skeptic)

        Reply
        • Philosophically, the skeptic and the nihilist are not close neighbors. The skeptic is a professional doubter who believes all truth is provisional and ever open to new information that could potentially alter what is considered true. The skeptic loves life and the adventure of the challenges it presents.

          The nihilist, on the other hand, is very skeptical that life is worth living because it has no meaning and holds out no hope for escape from endless meaningless victimization by other people and forces of nature.

          Are you not dangerously close to this nihilist position?

          Reply
    • Ced said: >This exchange had me wonder halfway through the text, why did you even bother. There seems to be an unbridgable abyss in your worldviews.

      At this stage, Greg I am in agreement with Ced’s doomy statement above, the gulf is too wide. You have not grokked and your elder status is in danger of being revoked. Go to the back of the class, return to the text, and re-read more closely and conscientiously – this time try imagining that you were weaned on Alex Jones and David Icke & fully believe the world is run by demon-possessed sociopathic lizard people and that we only need to identify the badguys and route them out to save the world, & that you are seeking evidence to bolster your worldview. Or choose your perspective, as long as it is radically different, preferably opposite, to the one you actually hold. See what you notice that you didnt before.

      Reply
  4. Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) & Hollywood

    SFRY was neither part of the Warsaw pact, so not behind the Iron Curtain, nor was it a member of NATO. Yugoslavia was one of the founding members of the Non-Alignment Movement.

    While Yugoslav state film production was big budget, that only applied to propaganda films glorifying the Yugoslav Communist Party (later League of Yugoslav Socialists). All other film production was script and character based, closer to theatre than big budget films. While attending prestigious drama schools was held in high regard and state TV channels played movies from film festivals, our staple was Hollywood. I grew up watching John Weissmuller and John Wayne not famous actors from the Soviet era. Czechoslovak animation and Soviet masterpieces were available but we were inundated with Clint Eastwood, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, etc. We played cowboys and Indians. Popular music was in step with the West. One Yugoslav band ‘Idoli’ even appeared on Top of the Pops. We were so steeped in Hollywood, that young man on all sides during the civil war dressed like Rambo, red headband, leather fingerless gloves and face paint (none of which are standard army issue).

    Hollywood undoubtedly played a key role in ideological warfare and ultimately victory. I recall adults, my parents and their friends, looking down on the Communist block and being frustrated by not living the American Dream. Even though many, like my parents, were well travelled and had visited the US, they always ignored the obvious failures of US capitalism (black youth dancing around a stereo ignited passion for the new trend, no one bothered visit a ghetto and consider the causes of their poverty) but instead chose to look for faults in the Yugoslav system by comparing the worst with the absolute best US had to offer. Inane shit was regularly quoted. Such as the salaries garbage men earned comparatively to how much they earned in middle-class jobs never once considering the living costs, free education, healthcare, job security, etc that Yugoslavia offered. I recall people unquestioningly discussing life in the US through the Hollywood filter. Hollywood’s reach is truly amazing. It colonised people’s minds, ambitions and world views on a different continent living in a socio-political system which was very much at odds with the US. Hollywood for Yugoslavs was like a beautiful woman for who you have to jump through flaming hoops just so that she might, just might, on her good day, give you her attention. Other than the economic pressure from the US via the IMF and WB, the Yugoslav state security apparatus selling out wholesale, it was the spell which Hollywood cast over the Yugoslavs which hastened our demise. In pursuit of the nationalist democratic capitalist utopia, people looked to Hollywood to show them the way. The jet setting lifestyle became a reality for less than 1% of the population, and they have so much blood on their hands it’s a question if their grand-grand children will be able to line up their ancestors.

    Reply
    • thanks for the testimonial, Ced; don’t know if you saw I’d invited Bonce to interrogate you regarding the efficacy of long-term social engineering on another thread so your voice has special cred around here (maybe why you get special cred elsewhere ;))

      I’ll re-post the relevant part here as IMHO it is worth repeating:

      I think the difficulty believing that we have been manipulated for centuries, and that both society and ourselves are the end result of those manipulations, is itself the result of those manipulations and, in a complementary fashion, of a privileged & sheltered life in which we never had to see, or be on the receiving end of, the raw power of these forces when they assume a less soft form of totalitarian control. Maybe ask Cedomir – who grew up in Serbia after generations of being on the blunt end of that instrument – what he thinks of the idea that the empire has terraformed the landscape of the human organism inner and outer since time began & you may get a less rosy-glasses viewpoint.

      I think we are largely clueless how absurdly easy to manipulate we are; conspiratainment is part of the problem not the solution, sure, but the evidence it incorporates into its controlled counter-narrative is nonetheless compelling and finally irrefutable (I never hear it being refuted except with blanket & vague statements).

      Reply
      • Wasn’t aware there was a splinter thread. I couldn’t agree more with the above observation.

        For the record, I was born in SFRY, lived in London for 20 years, and then moved to rump Serbia eleven years ago. While growing up in the UK, I used to visit regularly throughout the war years. Because of the events in Yugoslavia, it became evident that the real story always lies behind the news reports. I’d watch BBC and Channel 4 one day and then watch RTS (Serbian PBS) a day later. Brainwashing and mind programming. Overt and covert. Plunder and theft (material and psychological) idealised and romanticised. We now have all the main pieces to the puzzle in black and white. There’s no debate. At least not to the superficial causes and effects. Instead, people from newly established ‘independent’ states are immigrating in droves to find work, hating each other at home, while being the best fo friends in the diaspora. It’s a schizophrenic shitshow.

        When speaking to locals who are predominantly divided by religion and political ideas, I ask them if they realise that Moses, Jesus and Muhamed aren’t from our neck of the woods. Or ask if their Anglo/Franco/Germano/Russophilias are misplaced. The indoctrination is too deep and the wounds too fresh.

        Southeast Europe (the Balkans is a bit loaded and of dubious origin) has been a battleground since the Bronze age. It’s an interesting case study for world events.

        Reply
  5. Just remembered an interesting tidbit.

    During the war in Bosnia, 1992 – 1995, Serbs were presented in the Western media as medieval central Asian marauders from illustrated history books. While the rape of civilian women did occur, we know it to be fact, and the perpetrators can be found on all three warring sides, the stories spun took on fantastic connotations. At one point, the Serb army in Bosnia made up of locals, was bestowed the qualities of barbarians storming the gates of western civilisation. The accusations of rape became so ridiculous that one could reasonably assume that they had no military strategy or goal in sight other than to rape Bosnian Muslim women. The figures were outlandish only to served the purpose of presenting the Serbs as alien and menacing to the extent that they were pure evil. Joe Biden made some memorable anti-Serb remarks, my favourite being that “Serbs were genetically predisposed to genocide.” Forward four years and the most powerful military alliance in history bombed Serbia against international law. This time, Serb soldiers were raping countless Kosovo Albanian women. Again, the numbers were ridiculous, and the implication was that rape primarily drives the Serb army. What made this particular piece of propaganda particularly disgusting was that the NATO airforce was dropping depleted uranium on the population it claimed to be saving. More bombs were dropped on Kosovo per square kilometre than on any other part of Serbia. But I suppose it was worth it. The last remnant of a system striving to be self-sufficient was destroyed. The latest weapons were showcased, Camp Bondsteel was built (not open to inspections by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture) and Wesley Clark set up shop exploiting coal reserves.

    Fast forward again, this time to 2011 and Lybia, the media claimed that Gadaffi’s army was raping women in rebel areas from the get go. No superficial bullshit introduction to the conflict. It was immediate. However, this time the journos came up with an even more bizarre story… Gadaffi’s army was doing it while taking Viagra. For some reason, people think that wholesale rape of women is something that a retreating army, poorly equipped and fighting an infinitely more powerful adversary has time for and a predilection to rape. They really outdid themselves. I laughed when I heard it first. The anchor just accepted that account as fact and moved on to further vilify Muammar.

    Point being. The narrative against the Serbs was spun over a full decade. The stage was set. We were guinea pigs for the following military interventions across the world. He’s a Hitler turned into defaming entire populations and peoples. If it weren’t for the Yugoslav wars, western propagandists would have had to make more of an effort before the invasions which came later. It’s important to note, that the psyop by the media was directed at western audiences, not the target populations.

    Reply
    • part of my strategy with 16 Maps of Hell and previous books is to surround the reader’s attention with a relentlessly advancing battalion of examples to create a sustained exposure to unpalatable evidence such as the above. My hope is that it will neutralize the constant internal broadcast of a propagandized and traumatized nervous system that’s trying to maintain the crucial fiction that “this couldn’t possibly be happening, not here, now, and to me and my loved ones.” Based on Greg’s response, the attack wasn’t sustained enough and his defenses were too strong. Of course information is always finite and when unappealing will be met with counter-narratives (including the sort you cite above) that reframe the evidence in a way that is less conclusive or disturbing and easier to dismiss and forget. I suspect university training has a lot to do with it; less well-educated people, or self-educated ones, tend to be more open to my stuff.

      Meanwhile, those who don’t learn from history, become the unwitting instruments of it.

      Reply
      • Well, I love your stuff, but I agree, in general the ‘less well-educated’ people in my life have been less full of bs. I survived university, but perhaps if I’d gotten a Ph.D. I would have been a goner. No doubt some people get a real education, but they would mostly be the pre-selected Queen/ducal bee larvae…like .00001% of students.

        “It’s harder for a rich man to get into heaven than for a camel to get through the eye of a needle.” The friends of my youth in upper-middle-class ‘respectable’ positions care more about going along to get along to hold onto to what they have –which is above the base survival level that is reasonably easily attainable–than they care about their own integrity.

        I mean…what is happening here, now? If we care to allow ourselves, we’re all witnessing the high-tech crucifixion of Julian Assange…among others and the mass destruction of the recent and ongoing wars. Mass house arrest being tolerated out of fear. The idiocy of believing in the psy-op talking points about covid for long…like “we have no immunity,” “asymptomatic transmission,” “its like nothing humanity has ever seen before,” (well the chutzpah of the world governmental response to it, that’s like nothing humanity has ever seen before. Not precisely…just the latest and greatest demonstration of the art. Like gymnast Simone Biles’ unprecedented expertise at flips are “like nothing humanity has ever seen before.”)

        But all the above is not what I meant to say in response.

        Here’s what I really want to respond to:

        “previous books is to surround the reader’s attention with a relentlessly advancing battalion of examples to create a sustained exposure to unpalatable evidence such as the above. My hope is that it will neutralize the constant internal broadcast of a propagandized and traumatized nervous system that’s trying to maintain the crucial fiction that ‘this couldn’t possibly be happening, not here, now, and to me and my loved ones.’ Based on Greg’s response, the attack wasn’t sustained enough and his defenses were too strong.”

        An entire different strategy is possible, and in my experience works better.
        “Support equals release.”

        There’s nothing to be argued here. Maybe you’ll get it now, or maybe you’ll get it later.

        What you’re doing is a master’s tools/master’s house approach, and of course its natural that we try this to exhaustion. It even works once in a blue moon.

        But the real key is triage, which I mean in a kind of altered sense….its still about selection, but its not selection on the basis of who isn’t dying but who is ready, who is really looking. When we want companions we can be trying to get someone to run, who is busy with their own project of learning how to walk better.

        And yeah I know this seems different, because it seems like, “but they’ve got to know, because we’ve got to all know to stop them.” I mean from a logical perspective, obviously this is desirable, and there were people in 1930’s Germany who were smart, decent people who tried to warn people about the Nazis. They didn’t succeed, and it certainly was *not* all good in the biggest possible way. Not only did many of these opponents from a journalist whose name I forget to Dietrich Boenhoeffer get assassinated or executed, Nazi Germany was the horror they predicted killing millions of people externally and externally AND when you think it couldn’t get worse,

        you can realize that it led to the legacy of atomic bomb…which would never have been developed when it was but for the Second World War, and which unbeknownst to the public has been used thousands of times (in ‘tests’) polluting the planet, and the international institutions that have been such a mixed blessing to put it mildly.

        But its not denial to put the ongoing unspeakability in the context of celebrating life,
        at the moments its possible, and the uneducated do this better too, I think. Its the only possible truly living response, and our spiritual leaders have been calling us to it since Buddha realized the horrors of birth, old age, sickness and death and decided not to run away from that realization.

        So don’t take my words wrongly. I don’t mean the ersatz celebration of life, but the engagement of Buddha when Gopi came to him carrying her dead child.

        That love is not easily expressed in words, but fortunate and wise people express it in
        their being all the time. That wouldn’t be crazy old me, but I’ve known them.

        We understand that life is fatal, but we will be strong and act with love.

        Matthew 10:16 “”I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGv096aUgUM&fbclid=IwAR3QQT8rDNLZcAfd3NbWto7XcnFLtk3S5L2UoOpS0I9vUVDhf0MZgMLkBVE

        Reply
        • Thanks for this; support and release sounds like a good formula. I didn’t really get a sense of what it entails from what follows but I agree with the principle that people have their pace and can’t be rushed into seeing something. I did say it was “part of my strategy” as a writer, not all of it. Greg’s review and feedback has brought out a side of me that is more aligned with intellectual argumentation, words, and logic.

          I am ready to throw in the towel and leave Greg to his worldview; I wouldn’t have tried so hard were it not for the fact that he claimed to love my book, which presumes understanding, where all the evidence suggests a lack of it. That’s sobering and I suppose I was testing to see how genuine was the love and praise and hoping I could discover that it wasn’t predicated on a faulty reading, which it seems it was.

          Oh well. I have learned much from it, including that this sort of writing, and words at all, are so severely limited and limiting that, if medium is message, making them a primary means of connecting might do more harm that good, or at least foster and feed connections that aren’t ever going to get to the heart and soul of either party.

          I don’t feel that the urgency I feel for people to see what I see has to do with the sort of sociopolitical doom scenarios you cite, that feels both too profane and overly highfalutin. It’s about connecting to another living sentient being, which to some degree depends on agreeing about what is real and what has true meaning and value.

          Reply
          • Hi Greg.

            If you’re referring to the actual war, the trenches, I have no first-hand experience, thankfully. I barely saved my sanity being on the sidelines observing the horrors.

            However, I regularly spent extended periods of time (months at a time) in Yugoslavia during the 90s. During the sanctions, 1992-1995, I used to fly to Hungary or Romania and get a van across the border to Belgrade. I witnessed the immediate effects of the war first-hand:

            The economic implosion followed by the economic depression, people losing their savings (foreign currency exchange became dodgy men standing on street corners in loud coloured shell suits whispering ‘devize, devize’/’foreign currency’), the inflation rate was 23,000% per year during the sanctions, family members were suddenly earning 3 Deutsche Marks (£1 at the time) a month and were happy to have a job hoping to weather the storm, many factories/companies shut down, prices increased twice daily in ’92-’93 (I once tried to convince two younger female cousins to drip dry rather than wipe because the supermarket shelves were empty and one of the many products lacking was toilet paper), long queues ready to boil over into fights over oil, flour, salt, sugar and coffee (sometimes no one knew what was on the truck), growth of the black market, rise in drug abuse (specifically heroin) and alcoholism and subsequent overdoses and deaths, guns and munitions could be bought on the green markets if you knew the right person (many brought them back from the army) and everyone knew someone, rise in crime and murder (one of my school mates murdered a mate from his tutor group on a basketball court where we grew up playing), young men carrying guns openly and threateningly, moral values inverting (respect and kindness became weaknesses and any means necessary was glorified), regular power outages, garbage collection was irregular for months at at time so people resorted to burning rubbish in the middle of the city, irregular and inadequate central heating during the winter (my paternal grandfather died from a bloodclot because he hit his head in the bath when the power went out and there was no electricity to power the scanner), limited access to medicine unless someone brought it from abroad…

            In no particular order, I just listed what came to mind, but I’m sure you get the idea. The list is not exhaustive. Imagine a regular European city become a favela almost overnight with no recovery in sight. Everything I listed I’ve experienced. The only difference between me and my family and friends was that I knew I could leave whenever I wanted, and I spent most of the year away.

            Since moving to Belgrade I’ve been quizzing people across former Yugoslavia about their personal experiences. I find their testimonies to be very informative and useful in filling in the blanks regarding my understanding of events.

          • Wow! Once it would have been hard for most Americans to imagine such a turn of events, but now, even before Covid, there are parts of cities in many places where life is not much better, though likely not as bad. Thanks for your account.

            So, referring back to your other posts above, is it your opinion that American film and television programming contributed in a primary way to the dissolution of these Balkan states into war, violence, and intolerance? Would you place such effects in a more central role than the effects of religious and race divisions–augmented by the collapse of the order once provided by the Yugoslav government? My motives in asking are not to question your conclusions but to attempt to learn from your experience–since I don’t have much knowledge of these events, other than what I’ve read in American news reports.

  6. Response to Jasun’s Riposte to my review of 16 Maps of Hell — Part I

    Contrary to the impression given by the lengthy critique of my review in Jasun’s “riposte”, he and I are more similar than different in our views regarding current entertainment culture. Our two major points of difference are these:

    1) while I find Jasun’s indictment of the industry and his listing of its noxious effects to be mostly accurate, I disagree that the toxic products of the industry are the result of a cabal of conspiratorial persons, with sorcerer-like powers, acting in concert to social engineer consumers’ perceptions and reactions for purposes of controlling beliefs and behaviors;

    2) I don’t believe it to be defensible, as Jasun apparently does, to suppose that all the products of the entertainment industry ought to be lumped together into a dour Grinch bag (Merry Christmas!) of largely equal toxic contents and effects.

    In other words, Jasun claims a conspiracy has been and continues to be afoot to cast and continue casting a spell over consumers in order to render them fearful, divided, infantile, impotent, and pliable dupes ready to believe what they are told and continue spending dollars on an endless stream of manipulative entertainment propaganda. Consequently, due to the severity of the spell and the pervasiveness and depth of its reach, mere course-correction is not possible. Other than this, all is good between Jasun and I. Seriously.

    In order for Jasun’s thesis to be persuasive, readers will have to reconcile his view with a mass of inconsistent “effects.” For example:

    Why, in an industry under significant influence by the military (one of the groups in Jasun’s cabal), do most war films, as Roger Ebert once observed, turn out to be anti-war films? (such as, The Thin Red Line, Full Metal Jacket, The Deer Hunter, Platoon, etc.). Why not just glorify war or at least make it seem less nasty, vile, and senseless?

    Why, in an industry under significant influence by the CIA (another member of the cabal), do films appear with an anti-CIA message? (such as, Three Days of the Condor, which prompted Atlantic Magazine to remark: “By 1975, casting America’s intelligence apparatus as the enemy had become the stuff of mainstream studio entertainment”). Why would the CIA approve of films that make the agency look malevolent?

    Why, in an industry under significant influence by the Mafia (another cabal member), does a television series like The Sorpanos get the green light when it excoriates rather than glorifies mob life and mob characters—even placing the capo in the psychiatrists chair? Why give this series a pass instead of insisting it follow the script of mob glorifications offered in The Godfather and Boardwalk Empire?

    Why, in an industry under the significant influence of corporations and their money, does a flood of film and television shows depict large corporations as thoroughly corrupt, savagely violent, and unremittingly profit-driven? How can this help to place consumers in the proper frame of mind? Why even risk the possibility when it would be so easy to glorify corporations and portray them as the saviors of society?

    Moving into the political sphere, why, in an industry dominated by the interests of groups like the military, the CIA, the Mafia, and big corporations, does everyone consistently label Hollywood as a wing of the Democratic Party? If the control of the Republican Party lies so predominantly in the hands of the groups included in Jasun’s cabal, one would think most members of the Hollywood elite would loudly and clearly align with the GOP. But this is not the case.

    Many more such challenging questions could be asked of Jasun and it must be wondered why he did not ask them himself. Has he cherry-picked his evidence to confirm his view and tossed aside anything that might oppose it? His account of the overwhelming hegemony of evil forces in the entertainment industry does not add up when considering all the conflicting details. Jasun wants to separate himself from the academic world, but that is no excuse to fudge the facts and assemble evidence to fit a theory rather than fit the theory to all the relevant evidence.

    Reply
    • I believe you are underestimating what is an effective ‘cover’. A character based on real life can be depicted as the ‘bad guy’ without touching on what really makes that person or their organisation bad in reality.

      Consider what is not in the movies. For example why are the child pornography and child sexual exploitation aspects of organised crime not in movies?

      What is it about the Democratic Party (for example the record of the previous administration) that convinces you they are in opposition to the forces you have mentioned?

      For example consider the role of Governor Bill Clinton in Iran Contra.

      Reply
      • Martin says: “I believe you are underestimating what is an effective ‘cover’. A character based on real life can be depicted as the ‘bad guy’ without touching on what really makes that person or their organisation bad in reality.”

        This is a good insight. And you give the example of child pornography and sexual exploitation in organized crime. I haven’t fact checked this example but for purposes of argument, I’ll take your word for right now.

        Granting as much, I’m still at a loss for understanding why the mob would want any bad press such as it gets in The Sopranos. Actions are portrayed in this series that are comparable in outright evil to child abuse. So this blunts your point. Does a series like this have to portray every kind of crime the mob commits in order to avoid the accusation of providing effective cover for the mob? That makes no sense. You have to answer the question of how the mob bad press got green lighted. If you can’t explain this within the frame of the conspiracy claim, then you have to admit that the breadth of “control” of the conspirators does not exist to the extent Jasun claims. Some products are getting through the filters. And this could throw a wrench in the effects of the system and provide a bad example for other producers, leading to a run of people getting out of their lanes.

        Re: Dems and Repubs: Those who thought there was no difference between these two parties have discovered over the last four years what a huge difference there is. People did not know how bad things could get by voting Republican. Now they know. If you want to continue claiming, after these four years, that there is no difference . . . well, don’t even go there with me. Things can get a whole lot worse and a whole lot faster by continuing to vote Republican. If we get much more of this kind of Republican government, whatever is left of democracy, voting rights, and functional government in this country will disappear entirely. No need to hasten the process and thereby put the brakes on “course-correction.”

        Reply
        • There is more than one kind of ‘mob’. In the Sopranos do the protagonists own television companies, and commission drama series about themselves depicting their lives? Do they have members who are highly placed inside government institutions or the military? Are they involved in activities deemed ‘in the interest of national security’ and therefore protected from prosecution on that basis? (I don’t know, I haven’t watched television for many years)

          ‘Not no difference’ is not the same as ‘no similarity’. I’m not advocating for any sort of political choices, or that those choices are not meaningful to some extent. But that is not a sufficient test for how the politicians of each party function within the military industrial complex, covert operations, old money banking institutions, organised crime etc.

          Reply
    • The most compelling body of evidence yet Greg, that you are not a close or conscientious reader, of my work at least. All of the above questions are covered by my books, if not addressed directly. They are the sort of questions I have parried countless times over the years and if they are hard questions it is only because of how naive they are; I won’t take the time to say why because I am confident that almost all readers here at this blog already know why and agree; even a relatively conventional parapolitical researcher like Michael Parenti or Douglas Valentine would laugh or cluck irritably at these questions. They remind me of a child demanding of adults an explanation for why ducks don’t talk when they have seen them do so on TV. The final evocation of academia as a qualification for rigorous thinking is a rich and chilling irony. Greg, do you not even see, or at least suspect, how hobbled your own cognitive and perceptual faculties have been by your academic training?

      On a more personal note, I wouldn’t say all is good between us besides this point – as if it were a minor one when it comes to my writing – since your last comment to me conflated a willingness to see and address the darkness of our social reality with nihilism. To me this is an almost criminally ignorant, Pollyanna-ish, lily-livered insistence that love of life can be determined by how many nice things we have to say and how willing we are to ignore the bad stuff. For you to think that my way of life or perceiving borders on nihilism – especially after our last convo, which listeners can hear for themselves in a couple of weeks – is a travesty of misjudgment that points to a severely warped perception at work. So no, things are not “all good” between us; very far from it, and you assuming as much also points to a kind of disconnect in you from reality.

      Reply
      • Responding specifically to:

        “your last comment to me conflated a willingness to see and address the darkness of our social reality with nihilism. To me this is an almost criminally ignorant, Pollyanna-ish, lily-livered insistence that love of life can be determined by how many nice things we have to say and how willing we are to ignore the bad stuff.”

        Jasun, you know this is not what I’m saying. “Love of life can be determined by how many nice things we have to say?” Really? You really believe that’s my formula for measuring life-affirmation? You need to stop this. I consider us to be friends and you do not need to be making such silly assertions you know not to be true. We have a disagreement about the warrant for concluding an effective conspiracy controls the content of Hollywood output versus whether the inherent forces of info-tech environment combined with capitalist economy drives the output. Disagreements between friends do not need to be laced with comments such as: “criminally ignorant” or “lily-livered.” So, why say them? I’m not offended and all is good from my point of view. But I wish you would tone down the rhetoric a little.

        When I post further comments from my response to your riposte, keep in mind these comments were written before any comments now being posted. What I say about you and your views in these future posts is in the form of friendly banter, argument, and disagreement. So, to use your phrase in a friendly gesture of humor, do not be “lily-livered” in hyper-sensitive over-reaction to this commentary. It’s all in the spirit of lively exchange of views and not anything other than that. Although it is also about getting at the genuine cause of our cultural malaise.

        Reply
      • Just a note on my accusation that you are exhibiting symptoms of nihilism. Your equation of culture with evil (see part 2 of my response posted below) is nihilism writ large–for reasons I give in the part 2 post below.

        Reply
        • Greg: I’d say we are occasional collaborators who share mutual warmth and affection, with some qualified respect; I have a much higher bar for friendship than that. It’s closer to someone I would trust to have my back on a battlefield, a trust that takes years of shared combat together. We are very far from that kind of intimacy.

          For you to tell me to stop speaking frankly to you and then say you are all good with it is disingenuous and actually feels dishonest.

          Reply
      • You’ve said most of what I would have wanted to say, Jasun. I’ll just add that Greg Desilet (whose work I’m otherwise completely unfamiliar with) appears to greatly underestimate the power of the moving image per se, and the peculiar way the cinematic medium enforces identification with its protagonists. That’s one reason I was never impressed — I want to say “taken in” — by, for example, Taxi Driver, the theme of which is not alienation, urban blight, political corruption, underage prostitution, the senselessness of violence, or the cluelessness of Travis Bickle. It’s a film about how irresistibly charismatic the young Robert de Niro is. Any other content or “message” it may or may not have intended to convey is nullified by his presence. The camera is in love with him, as they say. Not for no reason did Bananarama sing his praises and score a hit with it, while millions of young men rehearsed and repeated the words “You talkin’ to me?” Neither the girls nor the boys would have paid the same homage to (say) Peter Lorre in M., another cinematic killer.

        The same points apply to Clint Eastwood in spades, and to the (anti-?) war films Greg D, lists, with the exception (I’d argue) of Full Metal Jacket. Kubrick always struggled scrupulously to prevent the audience from identifying smoothly & easily with his protagonists, a “fault” that led inevitably and repeatedly to critical complaints that his films were “boring” and “cold”.

        Google returns over 30 million hits for “cia hollywood”, and nearly 3 million for “cia pentagon hollywood.” Of course the powerful conspire! They aspire to extend their power and wealth, and of course this involves controlling & manipulating public perceptions.

        From a pubilcation as mainstream as Salon, nine years ago:

        The Pentagon’s strengthening grip on Hollywood

        https://www.salon.com/2011/08/29/sirota_military_movies/

        As for TV: I haven’t owned a telly for nearly two decades now, so I’ve only seen a few fragments of The Sopranos on YT. But does anyone seriously think any viewer came away from it_hating _the Mafia? They didn’t even see the Mafia, they saw the much-loved screen actor James Gandolfini, on a screen.

        PS I haven’t yet read Jasun’s book.

        Reply
        • you’re right and the proof is, I still feel cool wearing a Travis Bickle army flack jacket with a RDN button on the lapel, meaning that the lost soul Travis isn’t real to me except coz he’s played by a movie star and the lie is that no one so fucked up could ever be that attractively charismatic. Ditto with The Godfather, Sopranos, etc; of course the mob approve of these shows. And as if the public hating and fearing the mob or the CIA ever worked against those groups interests.

          Reminds me, I had meant to include this in the post; never too late:

          https://twitter.com/OurHiddenHistry/status/1309702740482949120

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  7. I couldn’t reply to your question in the box below so I’ll continue here.

    I’m aware of the living conditions of many Americans from documentaries and articles. I’ve visited ghettos in Europe, South Africa, South and Southeast Asia. I’m not claiming that any of the Yugoslav cities had it worse, it’s just that the change happened so suddenly and it was so dramatic that it turned peoples’ lives upside down quite literally.

    To answer your question I would have to fill you in on the creation of Yugoslavia in order to give a satisfactory explanation of its dissolution. You’ll appreciate that this is not the most suitable platform so I’ll just have to oversimplify.

    Yugoslavia was created after the Treaty of Versaille in 1918. Its creation had some support from the local population, including bizarre bedfellows such as the Serbian Masonic Lodge and the Yugoslav Communist Party. The support was mainly to be found among the intelligentsia (groomed by the Illyrian movement) and some patriots who recognised that a unitary state of kindred peoples was preferable to small nation-states which had little to no chance of actual independence. Of the Great Powers, France and the US were principal supporters in the establishment of Yugoslavia. Great Britain, as always, wanted to ensure a balance of power, which is to say that no one got too big for their boots. The US even sent two battleships to Rijeka (in modern-day Croatia) to dissuade the Italian army from trying to claim the northern Adriatic. France’s ‘support’ was so significant that the Nazis considered Yugoslavia to be a French satellite state.

    The above is just the tip of the tip of the water settling on an iceberg.

    There’s no racial hatred in the Balkans, we’re all the same race. The language spoken is categorised by linguists as ‘polycentric’. The fact is that the languages spoken in Italy or Germany have greater diversity than seven separate Balkan countries, but they’ve resolved it by creating unitary states at the right hisotrical moment and imposing a ‘common language’. We’re essentially one people divided by religious identity and dialects masquarading as separate languages. SFR Yugoslavia was a centralised one-party state. Officially, atheist and materialist, it didn’t suppress religious feelings but it did treat believers as backwards and retrograde. If one wasn’t a member of the League of Yugoslav Socialists the ladder one could climb was relatively short. When the war kicked off and blood was spilt, people (as people do) converged instinctively behind their local (religious) banners looking for safety. It proved to be a disaster for many as it was ‘their own’ who betrayed them.

    Hollywood specifically, not Cassavetes or independent films, promulgated the ideas of Western Capitalism and fantastic material wealth. The American Dream enticed the early immigrants, but it had a different role in the ideological warfare between Washington and Moscow. It served to promote a system which promised to award hard work with social status, freedom and unimaginable wealth. It was complimentary soft power to the US’s control of the IMF and WB, as well as direct meddling. When Reagan assumed office he perssured the US Senate to vote against an already agreed upon IMF loan to Yugoslavia which imposed serious financial pressure. Every subsequent loan (six in total during the 80s, more than any other country in the world for the decade) included ever finer small print which resulted in the privatisation of state owned industry which led to increased stratification and a growing icnome gap. Simultaneously, the Yugoslav State Security apparatus was compromised to the extent that the head of the Serbian (Yugoslavia was made up of six constituent republics) State Security was working for the CIA and head of the Croatian branch worked for the German BND. CIA and BND worked in concert. Even during Milošević’s reign, Jovica Stanišić as the acting head of the Serbian State Security was directly working for the CIA. These claims were proven in the Hague Tribunal and by their own admission in subsequent memoirs.

    The Vatican has been an open enemy of the Serbs for centuries because they are Orthodox Christians. Given that it provided safe passage to Latin America for many leading local Fascists after 1945 and that it continued to operate in Yugoslavia during Communist rule, their role must not be ignored or undermined. However, their outreach was limited to the faithful who were few in number. They played a pivotal part in igniting the war because they were the first to recognise Slovenia and Croatia as independent states.

    Still trying to get to the answer. In ‘short’, Hollywood propaganda (not American film) was not the primary cause of the country’s dissolution. Please note that Hollywood films are replete with commercials for a consumerist lifestyle. But it was one of several competing causal factors but certainly higher up on the list of influences than religious differences. Please bear in mind that most people had lost contact with their religious roots and customs. It played a central role in dominating the narrative which supported secession because the seccationist movements promised the American dream of freedom, democracy, wealth and collective abundance only if the Socialist Federative Republic was destroyed to it’s very foundations. That would not have been possible had the Hollywood dream factory not installed itself over decades as a filter through which Yugoslavs perceived social and politcal reality.

    As you can probably tell, I’m not well versed in internet discussion. This is the only website where I post comments. The above is my absolute best at being concise 🙂

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    • Something just occurred to me.

      Just as the English language only became Lingua France with the advent of modern/mass media, so Hollywood influence added a new layer of pressure to the existing collage which has deeper roots. This fact in no way diminishes its importance and prominence in comparison to other pre-existing pressures.

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      • Thanks Cedomir. I appreciate you taking the time to provide this account from your experience. It doesn’t surprise me that Hollywood confections and the aura of the wealthy lifestyle would seduce audiences in foreign countries. You can see my general responses to the Hollywood influence in upcoming posts.

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  8. Response to Jasun’s Riposte to my review of 16 Maps of Hell — Part 2

    Not only does Jasun skip over opposing evidence (point me to one page in his book where he actually addresses any one of the questions I raise in Part I), he also mistakenly reads my criticism as a failure to “grok” the main argument of his book. In his riposte to my review, Jasun claims the following regarding my position on his thesis:

    At base of your position, as far as I can tell, seems to be a deep faith in evil (the irony!), i.e. in culture and the many Hydra-like institutions it creates to further its agendas, that this rough Borgian beast will somehow course-correct and become the instrument of our salvation and not our slavation. That you hold onto this faith either indicates that my book has failed, epically, to do its job, or that you failed, equally epically, to grok it (the two diagnoses are really one)—or some mysterious third option of a faith beyond despair that “everything that is, is holy.”

    Jasun mistakes disagreement for misunderstanding. I “grok” what he says but I disagree with him. Apparently, he cannot believe the evidence presented in his book concerning the Borgian beast and the designs of the Hollywood sorcerers is not sufficient to overcome all hesitations on the part of readers, including myself. Therefore, I must misunderstand. Here, Jasun assigns a power to his presentation that itself resembles the perfect cube of Borgian logic. Resistance to this logic is futile! Anything short of assent is “epic failure.”

    There are several notions to question in the above passage, not least of which is the equation of “culture” with “evil.” This equation does not trouble Jasun? A native language is the foundation of all culture as well as a defining part of what makes us human. We share 99% of our DNA with chimps but the other 1% is the difference giving us the capacity for language and culture and puts the sapiens in homo sapiens. Culture can be no more inherently evil than language, but like language, particular cultural trends can turn toward evil (harmful) ends.

    Jasun says he wants to “throw the baby out with the bathwater,” throw out culture because the baby is dead. But there is no human life without culture and, most especially, no human community without culture. And the making of good community counts among Jasun’s most desired goals—a goal that, as he rightly suggests, has been largley lost among the clutter of current cultural trends.

    Throwing out the baby with the bathwater is not only a bad idea it is also impossible to do without entirely capitulating to the trends of current toxicity and throwing ourselves off a cliff. No human society in the past, despite its current toxicities, has done such a thing. Instead, course-corrections take place, led by those who respond to life-enhancing instincts concerning what counts as health. These instincts are not the special capacities of a few. They are built into human DNA and possessed by every individual. But in particular historical situations, many—sometimes a majority, sometimes even most—suppress, for a variety of reasons, the early warning system registering toxic alerts. The Hans Christian Andersen allegory “The Emperor’s New Clothes” speaks to this phenomenon. The people know the Emperor is wearing no clothes, but they suppress this knowledge—in self-confirming denial of self in order to avoid risks of non-conformity—not through conspiracy control from the top. The child in the crowd blows the whistle on this self-delusional charade. In such cases, the whistleblower plays a significant role in the collective process of course-correction. Jasun is a living example of such a whistleblower. This is why I like and support his work.

    Jasun blows the whistle but errs, epically (to borrow his word), when he rejects the solution of course-correction. Cultural course-correction rather than wholesale abandonment is the ONLY option. There can be this or that culture, this or that cultural trend, but escape from culture? That is impossible—except, perhaps, in death. But death—in suicide or collective suicide—is an overly desperate solution and entirely unnecessary. Similarly, retreat into isolation and partition from society is entirely unnecessary and only hastens further toxic cultural developments.

    For Jasun, the wholesale cooptation of culture by the cabal of sorcerers is the root cause of our current troubles whereas, in my view, the cause lies in the more general and pervasive effects of info-tech culture. This technology cannot suddenly be made to disappear from the human cultural environment, so response to its effects transported through particular product content remains the primary option for coping. And particular content trends are capable of course-correction. In my book Screens of Blood, I identify a current trend, an example of course-correction, manifesting in several films and television series of the past two decades. Jasun will likely be unimpressed with these examples and “colonize” them back into the fold of his circle of sorcerers by reading them as clever tropes and “covers” in service of the machinery of the superculture.

    Well, I disagree and I have rather good reasons for doing so. That Jasun thinks I have not grokked his message concerning cause reflects his obsession, even though he knows better, with the toxic ideology-like effects (more on this below) of conspiracy theory run amok.

    My reasons for putting up resistance to Jasun’s Borgian logic, include the belief that every Borgian beast, no matter how perfect, contains the seeds of its own undoing (self-correction)—a correction which, because its origin comes from within, is inevitable. In this respect, the notion that “resistance is futile” is itself the essence of futility. The entire project of deconstruction emerging from the work of Derrida, for example, rests on the discovery of the seed of undoing that lies within everything.

    Being consistent, you can also find in my reasoning a thread of undoing, which then leaves you in the position of having to make a decision about which line of reasoning has the preponderance of better reasons. Unlike a calculation, this decision concerning reasons requires exercising judgment in evaluating all forms of available evidence. Deconstruction, as one of the best representations of the postmodern stance, has nothing to do with what Jasun describes as “the postmodern counterfeit, that everything that is, is holey, i.e., wholly subjective, and therefore divorced from—unaccountable to—objective reality.” Here Jasun seems unaware that no trace of radical relativism or subjectivity exists in deconstruction—when it is adequately understood.

    The products of the sorcerers—films, songs, poems, books, etc.—function as signs (indeed, complex signs or texts) and like all signs, they are subject to interpretation. Being subject to interpretation, they are subject to differences of interpretation between different consumers. In fact, these products are subject to different interpretations in the same consumer between different exposures. Repetition-with-a-difference is always underway, among self and others, with every repetition. Consequently, the sorcerers cannot manufacture a product that will guarantee the effects they might desire. And these products cannot be read with a degree of certainty that permits transparent determination of what exactly the sorcerers themselves intended to achieve with their products. These factors introduce cracks in the edifice, glitches in the software of the superculture spell any sorcerer of signs may attempt to cast.

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    • you win Greg; not because your arguments have persuaded me but because they have persuaded me words will never bridge this gulf but only increase it. Stale mate.

      I note the irony that the reviewer wants to insist his reading of the book is the right one, even when the author assures him it is not.

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      • Jasun–why do you insist on seeing disagreement as misunderstanding? You yourself have cited me in two different comments where you agree I state the thesis of your book quite adequately. I grok what you are saying. I just don’t agree. The evidence is not sufficient.

        There are larger forces at work than human agents, forces beyond human control–a technological environment that is rapidly growing and changing. We are all puppets in this unpredictable environment and the person or group on top one day will be the person or group on the bottom tomorrow. The center does not hold and the decentralization is such that no one has anything like broad control of culture or anything else. The situation is more like we’re all running out of a burning house. There’s no plan; there’s just scramble and do what you can. The chaos in politics around the world surely supports this conclusion. The same is true in the rapidly changing entertainment industry. Change is too rapid for anyone to keep up with, including the sorcerers of Hollywood.

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        • Yes I know what yr POV is Greg, no need to keep restating it.

          My point is that it has little to do with my book, including when you write nice things about it. I never said you stated the thesis adequately, but that it sounded like copy I had written for the book. (And that it was strange that you summed it up as if you approved overall but had some minor criticism, when in fact your criticisms essentially reject the whole thesis of the book.) The difference is perhaps that I understand my thesis, whereas you don’t, even if you keep insisting you do. (I presume if you wrote a thesis you would feel qualified to say whether someone’s interpretation of it was correct or not, regardless of whether they wrote favorably or disfavorably?)

          At base, I think, is your lack of knowledge or experience about the nature of power and politics; you seem to exist in a propaganda-created bubble in which who gets into power, Republicans or Democrats, makes a difference to who’s in control. Such a bubble can’t survive a merging with the sort data that I and many of my readers, some of whom are commenting here, have immersed ourselves in for decades. This is why your questions to me seem too naive for me to know how to, or to want to, address.

          As Martin is pointing out, the bipartisan political system, like the military industrial complex, the medical establishment, Hollywood, the mass media, the intelligence community, organized crime, the education system, all function along very different, much more covert lines than you seem to be aware. 16 Maps of Hell argues the same. You say it doesn’t present enough evidence, but it is only a single book, one that focuses on a very small town and a handful of cases studies. It provides microcosmic raw data, and it gives you the necessary leads to follow if you are really interested in testing my thesis, instead of simply rejecting it. Your responses thus far show no curiosity about doing this, however; and very little humility about what it is you might have to learn. This is why the praise feels insincere or empty.

          If you are really so impressed by my books, why the lack of openness to seeing the massive gaps in your knowledge and reasoning (they are big enough to drive the Millennium Falcon through)? Instead of questioning further, you take a position that seems more philosophical and temperamental (hence you accuse me of verging on nihilism, as if this was about philosophical camps!) than fact-based. It’s here that the gulf seem unbridgeable, because you aren’t really engaging with the material or showing willingness to let it lead you outside of your comfort zone of convictions. You may be up on Derrida & Deleuze, but I wonder where your view of political reality even comes from?

          Do you read the Washington Times or watch CNN (I know you don’t watch Fox News!)? Time magazine? You might as well refer to Mad magazine. Did you vote for Joe Biden? Do you think Donald Trump is worse than Barack Obama? Then you may be existing in a parallel universe that to some people commenting at this site has no more relation to reality than a Pixar movie. We might be the deluded ones, of course; but it is as well that you know the gulf that lies before you. (I also have Trump-lovers here, but there’s not much I can do about that. I would say they are slightly less deluded since there is at least some tiny evidence Trump is attempting to fight against State power.)

          Whatever you get from my books, I am pretty sure it is less than 10% of what’s there; all the more amazing that you respond as positively as you do. But it’s mostly depressing for me, I’m afraid, to come up against my limitations as a writer in so stark a manner. I am going to offer one, just one, tiny example from the book of a data point you have filed away without it denting your conviction about how it is impossible for groups to have such control over us: that of Rapaille’s Nescafe campaign: introduce children to coffee-flavored candy and they grow into a generation of adults who are susceptible to coffee marketing strategies. Small, random, seemingly “innocent” (though not to me obviously) an example, and confined to an advertising company (no military or intell. links needed) and the work of one individual. 16 Maps of Hell is overflowing with these examples, embedded in explanatory context, all in an attempt to show how we are managed, from cradle to grave. Your only arguments against this body of evidence seem to be: “I dont believe it,” “it couldn’t possibly be that coordinated,” “societies too complex,” “I need more evidence,” and “culture’s not all bad” (I agree BTW, and say so in the book), followed by questions like “How come 3 Days of the Condor makes the CIA look bad?” that ignore the subtleties of the methods I am mapping in the book, and of the book itself, causing me to wonder if you actually read it. So of course I’m disappointed, Mr Desilet.

          But don’t worry, you’ll feel fine after you eat your cookie. This was my last book about Hell anyway. You are helping me keep to my resolve! 😉

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          • Okay, well, I do think we have some misunderstandings going on here. I’m not reading you and you’re not reading me. But I think I’ve discovered what might unlock the stalemate and show how our views intersect, how we may be talking about the same thing from different angles. I did some research on the guy you mentioned who designed the Nestle campaign. Back in 2003 Frontline did an interview with Rapaille that is very interesting. You can find it here: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/persuaders/interviews/rapaille.html

            Essentially, this interview shows why we are both right and how it is that we are talking past each other. Rapaille’s work shows how you are right in asserting that success can be achieved in controlling people’s behavior–even in ways that by-pass rational decision-making. People can be manipulated, as Rapaille argues, by appeals that access the reptilian part of the brain.

            But Rapaille also ackknowledges that every culture is different and every individual is unique. What this means is that codes used to trigger the reptilian brain in some cultures and in some people will not work for every culture and every individual. Regarding the Nestle coffee campaign, roughly 2/3 of the adult population of Japan now drink coffee but the remaining 1/3 are beyond the reach of reptilian appeals. This is likely due to the fact that these people do not like the taste of coffee. They have a different bio-chemistry. Perhaps even a different gene. You will never get them to drink coffee and so no appeal will work on them. I understand this because I am one of those persons who cannot stand the taste of coffee. Coffee-tasting candy would not work on me and many others, even in the childhood imprinting years.

            So, “spells” that work in one culture may not work in another culture and “spells” that work in a given culture may encounter a large percentage of the population for whom the spell does not work. And even among those for whom the spell works, it may only work for a certain period of time. Then it wears off and a new “code” must be discovered.

            So, in conclusion, broad influence of behavior is certainly possible (Jasun scores here) but this influence is not universal and its effects dissipate over time. (Greg scores here). This is because each generation is also different from the last and has different reptilian triggers consistent with new environments (such as technological changes). Due to these factors, no cabal of sorcerers can achieve universal and lasting control over any given culture or population. There are too many variables at any given point in time and too many ways in which the conditions are changing and therefore demand new strategies to keep up.

            And then there are people like me (my French genes?) where the cortex part of the brain overrides (in many cases) the reptilian part of the brain (Rapaille tacitly admits that the reptilian brain does NOT always win, even though he says it does). For example, advertising appeals that work on most people do not work on me. In fact, they irritate me and trigger me NOT to purchase the advertised product. In fact, Rapaille acknowledges that Americans, even though highly reptilian in their responses, do not like to be controlled or manipulated. When sensing manipulation, some will respond by spiting the reptilian reflex, even if this choice is self-destructive. This makes it especially tricky to find codes that work across broad sectors of the American population.

            Manipulation is complex. And then there is: the medium is the message. The influence of the info-tech environment trumps every effort of control exerted by human actors. The message content traveling through electronic media is secondary to the overall “message” of the media environment. This environment is the ultimate master-sorcerer. It is the sea in which the small boats of human-induced effects get tossed and swamped.

            Bottom line: the effects of the entertainment products are broad and, in the current times, largely soul-sapping. These effects may reach hegemonic proportions (Jasun scores) but are not universal and not stable across generations (Greg scores). And since every culture contains several generations at once, limits to the hegemony exist and can be exploited–especially by critics and whistleblowers.

          • entertainment is one factor among many; I have never argued for a single cabal

            for this to turn into a point-scoring system proves we are both puppets for hidden cross-cultural forces

            Americans, IMO, are probably the most propagandized people on the planet

  9. To Jasun: Okay, clearly you do not want to have a conversation (with me). But don’t give up on words. You are an excellent writer and you have a lot to say that people should hear. You may not like Derrida but I think he was onto something when claiming that misunderstanding (to one extent or another) is inevitable and communication, if it ever occurs, is a miracle. But that is no reason to give up on writing. Writers should write for themselves (their own process and fulfillment). If anyone else benefits from the work, so much the better. If someone like me misunderstands you, so what? Why even care? Don’t skip a beat. Even I would claim it’s better to read you than not read you. I feel I take away something very worthwhile even if it isn’t what you want it to be. So thanks for that.

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