Summation 1

Between the approx. 60+ blog posts here, and the references to my book,”see my book” I think the issues herein have been given a clear and thorough examination. Thus it seems to me it is a time to wrap these topics up and conclude this particular blog. A new theme for the future is in order. But to wind this theme up, I would like to write this one final post on the issues themselves, and then use the next five to ten posts to do a summation of the threads we have examined here.

This last post on the idea of life as theater and all that surrounds are scripts by others, could not be complete without observing this most recent example.

Donald Trump was in San Diego on Friday May 27. His tour of speaking engagements have been haunted by demonstrators and some mayhem. The local San Diego paper, the Union Tribune, wrote this front page headline on that day. “SOME ARRESTS AT RALLIES MAY BE SCRIPTED” Then the article that follows begins, “If arrests are made at today’s Donald Trump rally, watch carefully. What looks like chaos may be choreography. Getting arrested can be a powerful demonstration of commitment….some are the results of advance negotiations. Police and protestors often confer before marches and rallies, discussing everything from the time and location of the protest to….how and when people will be arrested. They come to us and say, “These individuals are going to do this, and we understand when they do this you are going to arrest them”, said San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman. “A lot of times, they designate a person or persons to be arrested.”

Life as Theater, dear readers. Scripted events for television digestion. As we already know, many if not most of these demonstrators are paid. They are “actors” for hire. Street Theater as political advertisements. There are “aggregators” who will hire and perform a demonstration of your desired object complete with posters from either side of the political spectrum.

The regular readers of this blog can see and understand the simulacrum, the reality that isn’t, at work here. We can see the script. We know the reasons why. That is why I think it time to move to some concluding blogs. The lessons are learned. The readers educated. But I couldn’t help but post this one last narrative that so aptly demonstrates what we have been talking of for these now many months in these now many postings. Thank you for reading.

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Simulacra as Crime

In my book “see my book” and this blog I have explored the simulacrum as a vivid replica of reality rather than reality itself and the confusion that causes and all the consequences that entails. Recently, we have seen instances where this confusion has turned upside down and has become criminal.

Earlier blogs explored “the selfie” and its ramifications, particularly for the young. Newer apps have expanded the purview of the Selfie. Periscope, Meerkat and Snapchat allow users to live stream their videos. In at least two cases recently, crimes such as rape and corruption of minors have been recorded by someone who allowed the fore-mentioned crimes to proceed while they recorded and streamed them live. Two such cases have been brought before the courts and the accused face possible prison time if convicted.

Reporters have historically faced the moral dilemma when photographing or filming war, riots, etc. Do they continue filming or do they intervene? Today, almost everyone is equipped with a camera that takes both stills and videos. The moral dilemma is now upon us all.

The young believe everything must be photographed. “Something only becomes real if it is recorded in some way.”, is often quoted as the reason for such excess of recording. Thus the simulacrum (the photo or the video) becomes the real when looked upon, as opposed to the real event which lacks veracity when simply lived. Taking pictures on vacation is a bit like this, keeping the real alive in pictures to be viewed later. But in this long tradition, the picture is known as simply a prompt, a reminder. (I explore in my book and earlier blogs the issue of travel brochures being taken as the reality of travel destinations, and when the traveler goes to said destinations they want to visit the pictures. If the real vacation is not the brochure, the vacation is often deemed a disappointment.)

The picture, the video, the simulacrum as a truer reality is now pervasive among us all, particularly the young who have grown up with social media and everyone having a camera. The pocket phone is now almost more universally used as a camera and message sender than as its original purpose, making or receiving a phone call. The powerful need to record a moment so that one can re-live it even more powerfully as a picture or video is seductive, dangerous and almost psychologically perverse. This transmutation deserves deeper analysis than this short blog can avail. That one girl would video and live stream the rape of her friend rather than being outraged and intervening is a mind-boggling change of behavior created by technology. Our machines are warping us. This is but one compelling example.

That simulacra (which all photos and videos are) should evolve from accepted replication to more scintillating alter reality is a distress call. When pictures and phantasies are taken as more real, madness is upon us. Social media has become dangerous. When crimes are recorded without compunction, simulacra have become criminal.

Add the next revolution of VR where simulated reality surrounds you….add the ever improving CGI in movies that makes anything imaginable seem totally real….and the ever finer line between reality and imitation is shrinking if not gone. You now have the makings of a sensory shift that is both technical and existential….and dangerous.

THE SIMULACRUM RULES !!

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Obama’s Cuban Homage

President Obama, in his waning days, has chosen to pay homage to the last vestige of his youthful Alinsky dreams…..this island of two prisons, one, Obama’s own of less than a hundred political prisoners at Guantanamo which he seeks to close, and one, the entire island of 11 million Cubans, political prisoners all which he seeks to keep open.

He has gone to this island nation, giving it credence and visibility by his very presence which in sequence will lead to increased visitation and income that will accrue to the Castro regime and its repressive future. Obama has asked nothing from the regime in return for this largesse. Why has he done this?

To the discerning eye, this last and tiny piece of pure Communism is a cruel cartoon of its glorious hopeful beginnings. Its frozen decay is confirmation of the futility and illusions of the Marxist philosophy, the same philosophy that imbues the visions of America’s future in the minds of Obama and Sanders and Clinton and most professors. Every image shouts failure. Thousands of autos, none beyond the 50’s vintages show the sudden end to an economy after the Castro victory. This may be the main benefit of Obama’s visit…to highlight this museum of Marxist/Socialist failure. This is the life and social conditions that accompany all that “free stuff”.

Obama was bred in Marxism. His father was a Marxist. His Mother was a Marxist. His step-father was a Marxist. His mentors were all Marxists. His professors were prevalently Marxists. His friend Bill Ayers is a Marxist. His idol Saul Alinsky was a Marxist. From this milieu how does Obama escape being a Marxist? He was compelled against all logic to make this visit to Cuba. He had to stand as POTUS amidst this lost island of failed Marxist dreams. It was a personal pilgrimage. It was a compulsion. Every freedom minded exiled and non-exiled Cuban has to feel betrayed. Obama gave credence to their oppressors. Obama can give all the cant and rhetoric to cover his visit, but it was in fact no more than a memorial tour of his own shattered youthful dreams. Was he hoping to see where it all went wrong? Was he hoping to see some trace of authenticity, a smidgen of success where there is none? I hope all its failures give him pause. Enough with the socialist/Marxist dreams. They don’t work! Communism, socialism, Marxism are all simulacra of words. They do not work in reality! Enough! Enough!

But it is late for that. POTUS has already done his damage, and Hillary and Bernie threaten more. They still hold out these failed dreams to the electorate. To bend the words of Ozamandias to these images of Cuba, “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.”

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Trump and the Icahn Playbook

Donald Trump has commonly invoked the name Carl Icahn among those he admires in the business world. Let’s take a look at the Icahn playbook which may give us an insight into the Trump playbook if he should be elected POTUS.

Icahn has made himself a vast financial fortune in a variety of ways, but his most popular one currently is this:

He looks for a valuable corporation that has fallen on torpid times. A once thriving entity is now beset by lethargy, poor productivity, poor shareholder value, lack of innovation and lack of leadership. He buys a substantial position in the company’s stock and via that position get himself and/or his surrogate(s) on the Board. Once in that role they advocate for changes that they feel would improve shareholder value, which coincidentally now includes themselves.

Commonly he asks for management changes either in policy or persons or both. The corporation that Icahn commonly targets is one that once had importance, productivity, innovation and brand. In most cases, it has now become a personal vehicle for the status and aggrandizement of management itself. Large salaries, generous stock options, sinecures, self-serving committees, golden parachutes, a vast comfort zone for management. Corporations in practice are owned by the shareholders. Management is chosen to serve the best interests of the shareholders. As corporations age, most of them forget that original allegiance and purpose. Enter Mr. Icahn.

I would suggest that this is exactly the problem with Washington today. It is a management team that was originally created to guide the government apparatus for the good purposes and outcomes for its shareholders, namely us! We the citizens are the shareholders of America, and those elected to serve are there at our convenience and concurrence. .

The voters of the center and right are looking for someone to enact a hostile takeover of the now vested interests of those we sent to serve, and who no longer do. Suddenly, and to the surprise of the Republican party, the establishment is being threatened with either performing in the best interests of the shareholders or get out. Their response is one of panic, shock and fear. They are rightly in fear. Their hold on their fiefdom is in jeopardy. It never was theirs, but they have forgotten that. That they serve, not own has been forgotten.

Trump has no dog in that fight. Neither he nor Icahn care a hoot about entrenched management. Start to innovate. Start to pare waste from the budget. Start to promote the creative and the smart, the best and the brightest even if they are first year senators or reps. Start to balance your budget. Start to create new jobs. Seek out synergies. Cooperate for the good of the shareholders. Begin to do all these things or get out.

This is all the Trump/Icahn playbook asks. They don’t pretend to have every answer for every problem, but their goal is to get management to find those people or Trump/Icahn will find them themselves. The incumbent management is on notice. Perform or get out of the way. That is the Trump threat! That is what is creating all the panic and fear. My God, someone is actually challenging them to do their job. Once that is the mission, the timid and thwarted, the bright but intimidated will step out of the shadows. Too long have freshman senators and reps been told that if you want to prosper in Washington, get committee appointments and chairmanships, learn to play ball with the old guard, the repeating incumbents. Fresh ideas are not welcome. Showing allegiances are.

This freshening is the very liberty that a Trump/Icahn approach will unloose. This is the very anathema to entrenched management. This is all we ask as shareholders in America. Serve our needs, not yours. Serve your country. not your office. Get things done, or we’ll find someone else who can get things done. Such a simple reminder of how the Republic should work is all that is being demanded by the supporters of DJT. So far, management, Democratic and Republican, has made a mess out of things, here and in the world. On careful scrutiny there is absolutely no component, division or department of government that has acted in the best interests of the country as a whole. They have all served their own or their favorite’s personal interests. All politics in Washington has become local politics. They serve the Hill, not America. They pretend to serve America; they say they serve the American people, but they don’t. They serve their own best interests. (And that is often the best interests of all the corporate PACs as well). They have created a simulacrum of government, not a real and functioning government.

The real has been forgotten. The shareholders have been forgotten. It is a shareholder rebellion; the shareholders are demanding the kind of change that they see only corporate raiders and vigilantes being able to impose. The entrenched management in Washington is not going to give up their parvenus and sinecures easily. It took the guillotine in France. Fortunately here, it will be the bloodless vote that will seek to rid us of the sullen and the self-satisfied.

His critics say Trump doesn’t know anything about government. Maybe at this juncture that is a plus. He does know business. He does know corporate governess. He does know how to assemble management, promote the able, disenfranchise the merely hangers-on. Either a player in a role gets that role done, or someone else gets the chair. Private industry standards imposed on public service scares the bejesus out of the establishment. That’s the panic in Washington. That’s the panic the public wants. America no longer wants the Bushes or the Clintons. Out with old that has ceased functioning, and in the with the new! Let the chips fall where they may. Once we’ve cleared the old wood, then send out the call to all, the new and talented. Come to Washington. Come and help us make things work. Come and help us make things right. Demand and help us serve the shareholders of America. And these shareholder benefits must accrue to all Americans, rich, poor, black, white, Chicano. Every American should prosper from a properly serving management team in Washington. That’s all we ask.

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Santa Claus

I thought I would postpone this thought until after Christmas lest it be thought too “Grinch”.

Santa Claus is a classic simulacrum. But it has unique characteristics:

one, it is agreed upon without conflict.

second, it has innocent true believers, some so-so believers, and some non-believers who keep the secret. They all live together in peace.

third, it is voluntarily relinquished after about a decade of belief.

For the very young and true believer, it is a full on simulacrum in that it is presumed to be an unquestionable reality. It is generally conceded that this sim is harmless if not in fact enhancing to the young. Generally, the older disbelievers despair a little when they lose the belief and see other tots begin to doubt its reality.

Those who relinquish the sim, regret its loss, and choose to protect the true believers in their innocence.

This is a classic and benign example of how simulacra should exist, how they can be held and then given up with gentleness and exit without harm. Our lost simulacra leave us sadder but wiser.

All simulacra should be so like Santa Claus.

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Dangerous Simulacra

Throughout this blog and my book,”see my book” I have treated simulacra as a falsity with consequences mainly on the person, the Self.  The danger of repeated false narratives and scripts imposed upon all of us leads to a disaffection, an inauthentic personal life.  That is true and worthy of one’s own effort to counter that component of modern life.

Today, I would examine the dangerous simulacra on a broader more social scale.  The simulacrum a car manufacturer would have us buy into in order to sell us a car is a benign one, compared to the simulacrum that a terrorist believes and would have us join that vision or suffer his or her vendetta.

The terrorists have a world view of offenses given them by a storied narrative.  But as in all simulacra, it is largely a replica and in this case a dangerous one.  Not all simulacra are totally false.  The most dangerous ones have a partial reality, a legitimate starting point that allows the believer to justify its totality.  Most of the dangerous simulacra are composed of philosophical, theoretical objections based on smaller amounts of reality.  They mistake too much rhetoric for reality.

Similarly, the American campus upheaval regarding race and diversity, is also a rhetoric created simulacrum that has a few obscure and only occasional moments of truth that are then raised by the narrative into a wide and consuming reality ignoring the vast strides made in the last 50 years in limiting racism and engendering diversity.  It is a dangerous  simulacrum that motivates the demonstrators and fogs their reality.

In our current age of media and cant, the most modest of complaints can be raised to the level of reality by encompassing them in a grand simulacrum that assumes a life of its own and gives motivation to its believers.  Once in place, they no longer examine or question their own simulacrum which they created and now within which they live.

Democrats do it to Republicans and vice versa.  Governments do it to each other internationally.  And religions do it.  This last dangerous simulacrum is particularly destructive.

Each of the various and many religions of the world are all simulacra.  They have to be.  There is no way that any vision of the presence of God or an after-life can be verified.  It is all belief.  This is a simulacrum without an original.  However the Universe is guided, if at all, or whether there is an after-life is unverifiable.  It is a reality never seen by the living or reported by the dead.  All religions are a construct of a spiritual supposition that is a belief system.  If all religions were tolerant of each other, if each allowed the others to worship as they believe or wish, then these would not be dangerous simulacra.  But as history tells us, tolerance has not been a hallmark of religious dogmas and too often wars and death have been waged in the name of the superiority or correctness of one or the other of some religion somewhere.

People die, people go to war, people kill everyday in the name of some dangerous simulacrum.  A simulacrum, a narrative that is 90% belief and concoction, and very little of a real and vast truth.

Religions in conflict are simulacra in conflict.  Democrats versus Republicans are simulacra in conflict.  Assad versus the rebels are simulacra in conflict.  Communism against capitalism is simulacra in conflict.  A simulacrum is an improvable belief system.  To wage war or to kill over it seems wholly absurd.

To allow each belief system to work its ways, attempt to prove its worth would be exemplary.  Religions, politicians and philosophers have been seeking the perfect belief systems for ages.  All have proven mortal and imperfect in parts.  But let the search continue.  Let Islam prove to me that they can provide the best life for their believers without harming the disbelievers.  Let communism or socialism continue to try and provide the best life for their constituents.  Let capitalism continue its efforts to give its believers a good life.  Stop dividing that effort into warring factions of a Democratic vision versus a Republican one.  Simulacra must be compromised to live.  Simulacra can be guiding principles or delusions, but they must always be seen as less than reality.  Reality exists all around us in some sort of grand mess.  We seek to impose order on that mess by imposing narratives and simulacra.  As a self conscious mechanism, that can be all right.  But as a belief system, that one must defend at all costs, is the source of all discontent in this world.

All simulacra are false.  But we will not rid ourselves of them. We can only hope to see them for what they are, and in that honesty, they may help us clarify our hopes and dreams.  But reality they are not.  Reality is a mess.  Even the search for a Unified Theory of the Universe is proving elusive.

Science is a series of simulacra.  But scientists seek to prove and try those hypotheses by reality tests.  The rest of the world should be so dispassionate in their pursuit of truth.  When we begin to treat our simulacra as hypotheses we will make them less dangerous.  When we engage in dialogue and proofs (or lack of same) we will finally live together in peace, harmony and tolerance.

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