Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar’s February, 2010 capture was heralded here at the Lake, as "one serious motherfucking success." Yesterday, the NYT reported (h/t Raw Story) that — and when will ever learn? — we’ve been jacked again by Pakistan’s decades-old Double Game.
Pepe Escobar: Pakistan’s army leaders have been masters of the double game since the 1980s. Could you briefly describe how they deploy their stealth?
Arif Jamal: Actually, the strategy of playing a double game is as old as the country. When British India was partitioned into two dominions in 1947, Pakistan faced an enemy in India which was several times bigger, more populated, resourceful and most importantly militarily more powerful. It was not good sense to take on a far more powerful enemy in a conventional military way.
Pakistani military strategist Colonel Akbar Khan conceived the concept of jihad to offset the lack of military balance between the two emerging enemies. Akbar Khan’s concept of jihad was no more than subversion in the enemy country, but it was couched in jihadi terms. He himself took over the grand-sounding name of a Muslim conqueror as his nom de guerre.
From that time onwards, the Pakistani military leaders kept inciting the local Muslim population in the Indian-controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir to subversion and turning subversion into a guerrilla war until 1980, when they decided to wage a real jihad in Afghanistan [against the Soviets]. At the same time, Pakistan never abandoned the diplomatic option of resolving its conflicts with India. The Pakistan army supported a full-scale anti-Soviet jihad or subversive guerrilla war in Afghanistan. Publicly, Pakistan denied any support to the Afghan mujahideen. The only time Pakistan claimed responsibility for subversion in a neighboring country was when the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan [in 1989]. It was a victory for the jihad policy. [Emphasis added. ]
WASHINGTON — The Taliban’s top military commander was captured several days ago in Karachi, Pakistan, in a secret joint operation by Pakistani and American intelligence forces, according to American government officials.
The Taliban’s military commander has been captured in a joint Pakistani-U.S. intelligence raid. A high-five to Langley: this is one serious motherfucking success. Now it’s really important we don’t screw it all up by abusing Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. [Emphasis added. ]
Ah yes. The US military under the disguise of “global NATO forces” captures yet another “leader” to justify the killing of little children. When did anyone justify the Afghanistan invasion as being at war with the Taliban? This shit has to stop. It’s disgusting. They kill, and people make excuse after excuse after excuse. First we were there for all those Al Qaeda (100 or less admitted by government), now we are overthrowing the government, installing puppets, and justifying the killing of small children as getting rid of the evil Taliban. And like Iraq, every other day it will be justified by capturing another “leader”. BS.
WORD! As if running a fine play in a fucked game of war merits any praise. How does his capture bring the war any closer to ending?
And you’re wrong about torture: the CIA is banned, not JSOC. Then there’s Army Field Manual Appendix M (iirc). Our dear allies are sending the message, “We’re gods among men, above the law, don’t fuck with us.” And as each side is playing the same insane game, based on the same fear of the Other, there’s no end intended. War is just what we do, no questions asked about that.
First it was al Qaeda, now we’re supposed to be elated that a Taliban commander has been captured? Is that because there were only 100 al Qaeda there? Never mind what the populace wants, the bad guys killed some of us good guys, we have to avenge their deaths, right?
How does this “motherfucking success” bring the war any closer to the end of convincing the Afghans that we know better how to rule their affairs?
I don’t share your enthusiasm for this blood sport, brother. In fact, it creeps me out. When has wiping off blood with blood ever cleaned a single bloody hand?
But the arrest of Mr. Baradar, the second-ranking Taliban leader after Mullah Muhammad Omar, came with a beguiling twist: both American and Pakistani officials claimed that Mr. Baradar’s capture had been a lucky break. It was only days later, the officials said, that they finally figured out who they had.
Now, seven months later, Pakistani officials are telling a very different story. They say they set out to capture Mr. Baradar, and used the C.I.A. to help them do it, because they wanted to shut down secret peace talks that Mr. Baradar had been conducting with the Afghan government that excluded Pakistan, the Taliban’s longtime backer. [Emphasis added.]
As I’ve asked before, whatever happened to Ack’s “one serious motherfucking success”? In the article, he admits–in an offhand way–that our ally, Pakistan, is known to torture. What we need to do, he says, is be smart and not torture this VIP detainee.
That. Is. So. Wrong.
No, Ackerman, we need to be moral human beings, and not torture anyone, not have anything to do with torturers, actively seek to bring them to justice.
Once upon a time, it was considered one serious motherfucking crime, to know about torture, but neither investigate nor prosecute. So why isn’t Ack investigating the torture of our “staunch allies” in the “war on terror”?
Because they and the CIA just pulled off “one serious motherfucking success,” and now we should all bow down and kiss the ISI’s ass, you know-nothing silly-vilians. When we want our victory parade, we’ll let you know. Until then, get in, sit down, strap in, shut up, and hold on, we’re going for a ride.
Last thing. Just weeks ago, American pundits were bemoaning how the Pakistanis weren’t taking any steps to go after the Quetta Shura Taliban. Hopefully they’ll have the decency to apologize to the Pakistanis. This longterm partnership has just paid a big dividend.
Boy, that Barack Obama sure doesn’t know how to deal with terrorism, huh?
Actually, Ack, if, by “deal with terrorism,” you mean, deal with our allies, who are supporting the so-called terrorists, I gotta give you that one.
And why is that? Because, as Pepe Escobar has abundantly documented, and as they have since the country’s founding, the Pakistan military is playing a double game. GAFC, Ack.
[Please pardon the cut 'n paste method, I broke my left distal radius (where arm meets wrist under thumb) yesterday.]
Pepe Escobar, unlike his denser American colleagues, makes great use of myths and metaphors in his reportage. As he says in his new piece for Asia Times Online, ‘Surge’ smoke follows Petraeus to AfPak, "Anyone who buys Pentagon spin believing the same successful “surge” will happen in the Pashtun south and southeast of Afghanistan must have smoked Hindu Kush’s finest."
Confirmed and reconfirmed by United States President Barack Obama, the US Senate and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and duly hailed as the new armored Messiah by US mainstream media, "tightly disciplined" political fox and former US Central Command chief General David Petraeus is about to land in Kabul. He will either hit the road to his 2012 Republican presidential nomination, or witness another disaster in a US$7 billion a month (and counting) quagmire.
The myth of Petraeus’ "successful surge" in Iraq could not but linger on. The Pentagon never managed not to profit by selling a public relations operation to a gullible American public. Petraeus actually "won" the war in Iraq by disgorging Samsonites full of cash to selected strands of the Sunni resistance who were fiercely fighting the US occupation, while at the same time shielding the American military inside remote bases.
Naturally the infinite war lobby – from the Pentagon’s "full-spectrum dominance" crowd to hawkish Zio-cons and assorted Republicans – wants "cold-eyed realist" Petraeus to engage in, what else, infinite war, with its attendant surge(s). We’re already on our way; the general already said this is an "enduring" commitment. Maybe not exactly the White House sort of commitment, which until now was demoted General Stanley McChrystal’s hardcore, "take, clear and hold" counter-insurgency (COIN) plus building up local "governance".
harpie, commenting on emptywheel’s June 29 post on the Kagan hearings, has answered a question that’s been bugging me for months. I had forgotten the name of the contemporary Scottish sculpttor who does installations in situ that are absolutely stunning in their simplicity of design.
In the documentary of his work, Rivers and Tides, Goldsworthy says, "The seed of the shape the things we make is in the stones we stack to make them."
Look at our highways. Cities are planned with the car as the fundamental unit, not the pedestrian, much less the self-sovereign citizen. The fundamental unit of our political economy is some sort of Newtonian voodoo doll, oh so easily jacked.
See? Misconceived psyches, black holes of egocentric pain, are the fundamental units of this world of pain we’re in. There’s no appreciation of the opponent force of kinetic actions.
What’s the opponent force to kinesis? Kenosis, self-emptying, the power of Leaves of Grass bursting through asphalt and iBOPs (information, that is) the world over. Our lungs, hearts, and even our minds, function on the principle of the self-filling/self-emptying vessel.
It’s the power by which these very words, these self-emptying vessels of mind, don’t need to be forced to give up their contents. These words self-empty upon reading. The fundamental unit of awareness is the self-filling/self-emptying neuronal model of stimuli, into which, like these words right here or cups of tea, experience is flowing; from which our shared awareness of our shared creation of this shared narrative is arising; and out of which, our behaviors are flowing like water.
It’s often said, that the knowledge of our own impending deaths separates us from the rest of the earthlings. There’s another one: we are aware of our own role in our own becoming. IOW, we can make shit happen from within. We don’t have to believe the hype, that our behavior is ever and always to be determined by following the orders of people who claim to be following the orders of the Biggest Man Up the Highest Stairs.
As it turns out, I’ve been wrong about Goldsworthy. His bio describes him with the more generic term, ‘British.’
Andy Goldsworthy was born in Cheshire in 1956 and was brought up in Yorkshire. He studied at Bradford College (1974-75) and Preston Polytechnic (1975-78).
After leaving college Goldsworthy lived in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria. He moved over the border to Langholm, Dumfriesshire, in 1985 and to Penpont one year later. This gradual drift northwards was due to a way of life over which he did not have complete control. However, contributing factors were opportunities and desires to work in these areas and reasons of economy.
Throughout his career most of Goldsworthy’s work has been made in the open air, in places as diverse as the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District, Grize Fiord in the Northern Territories of Canada, the North Pole, Japan, the Australian outback, St Louis, Missouri and Dumfriesshire. The materials he uses are those to hand in the remote locations he visits: twigs, leaves, stones, snow and ice, reeds and thorns. Most works are ephemeral but demonstrate, in their short life, Goldsworthy’s extraordinary sense of play and of place. The works are recorded as photographs. Book publication is an important aspect of Andy Goldsworthy’s work: showing all aspects of the production of a given work, each publication is a work of art in its own right.
Some recent sculpture has a more permanent nature, being made in stone and placed in locations far from its point of origin, as for example Herd of Arches 1994. The series of chalk Arches made at Sculpture at Goodwood in 1995 are semi-permanent, given the fragility of the material, and are now sited indoors at Goldsworthy’s studio in Dumfriesshire, to extend their life. [Source: Cass Sculpture Foundation: Andy Goldsworthy.]
Scarecrow, commenting on emptywheel’s June 29 post on the Kagan hearings, has shown us the way to deal with juggernauts of all kinds.
In the post, Elena Kagan and Lindsey Graham on the Global Battlefield, the Sequel, emptywheel describes her astonishment at the exchange, between Senator Lindsey Graham (R-Userious) and "Solicitor-General-for-the-purpose-resume-polishing" Elena Kagan, in which the two decide for us all that the only proper way for us Americans to be in the world is as if it’s a perpetual holy war.
So, does any of this survive if we declare “there is no war on terror”? Declare al Qaeda or X to be international criminals to be pursued under criminal law and stop using the war metaphors. All the “war law” stuff become irrelevant, doesn’t it?
To which ew replies, "That’s one of the reasons Kagan should have called Lindsey on his use of “hostilities.” Becuse if it’s just hostilities and not war, then the legal basis for indefinite detention collapses, as it should."
And to both of them I say, WORD! Well done, that’s what we need. Since the neo-feudal world being materialized by our dear MOTU is a creation of their atavistic ideologies, just so, by the power you just demonstrated, we can define their world of pain right out from around us.
Myth-making materializes the intentions of the maker. To change the world, we need to change the metaphors in which our dreams become our visions become our narratives become our realities. Problems of mythic proportions demand commensurate responses, right? Since it’s the power of perverted narratives that has gotten us into this Waste Land, simply by recognizing and reclaiming that power, we can get the Hell out of here.
We don’t have to believe in life as a perpetual holy war of us good guys over here against them bad guys over there.
For example, how do we stop the juggernaut of the war on terror from crushing us all? (Hint: all Zen questions should be suspected of being trick questions).
You don’t stop juggernauts by opposing them with equal or greater kinetic activity. That’s exactly what agents provocateur want. You don’t jump juggernauts, you simply sidestep them, as Scarecrow rhetorically did, but Kagan egregiously didn’t.
I bow in your virtual directions (Coriolis correction requested).
Jon Stewart and his crew at The Daily Show are among the best myth-busters ever. Last night’s broadcast was a double feature: Day 58 – The Strife Aquatic, busting the blatant myth-making by Obama in his Oval Office address; then, in An Energy-Independent Future, going all the way back to Nixon to bust the myth of America’s imminent move to energy independence.
A myth is a metaphor, and a metaphor is a vessel for going from ignorance to understanding–or the other way around. Presidential myth-making is intended to "get us on board" with The Program, whatever that might be, giving voice and vision to our aspirations ("Ask not what your country can do for you,…") or our fears ("There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction…").
Fire has long been used in religious rituals; in my illustration, the flashlight depicts the sacred fire. From the infinite earth, materials are gathered; the Many finite, temporal, profane things return to the One infinite, eternal, divine fire. Smoke is the traditional conveyor of prayers; the light beam arises, becoming, with its human holder, the channel of peace that St. Francis sought, between the wheel of the earth and the wheel in the sky (when it’s calm, smoke wheels in the sky may be seen topping the columns arising from chimneys). When the beam of my heartligh bursts into infinity, then how large is my heart?
As with the fuel, fire, and smoke, so too with us.
In baptism by fire, the initiate is required to quit all claim to the former self; suffering is exactly the attempt to cling to the previous form; bliss is burning for all we’re worth, simply hoping that others might be enlightened, not harmed, by our immolation (“This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine!”). In this spirit, Christ walked willingly to Calvary.
In this spirit, some Buddhists undergo willingly baptism by fire.
Which brings us to self-immolation (above is the full version of Malcom Browne’s famous photo of Thich Quang Duc taken in 1963). The most famous episodes of Buddhists self-immolating occurred in Vietnam. As was being done to their external selves all around them, so they did to their selves. In a perfect expression of compassion, a Buddhist nun, Thich Nu Thanh Quang, immolated herself in the city of Hue, May of 1966. She set herself on fire as a way of pointing to the agonies of her country and saying, there by the grace of being aware of my own becoming go I.
The brave monks of Burma likewise have shown us the way. Even though they were ordered not to, the monks of Burma walked the streets of Rangoon in broad daylight, as monks are wont to do. That was their only crime. They themselves knowingly put in play the events that brought about their deaths by beating and burning. That doesn’t lessen the tragedy, it defines it. They didn’t hold their selves, their egos, or even their bodies to be more dear than their freedom.
More recently, the Freedom Flotilla participants have demonstrated the same heart-busting love for people they may never meet.
How is it possible, in a world supposedly based in brutal, blind, mechanistic competition, for one person to sacrifice their own life in such a manner? The surprise of altruistic acts comes from the unfounded assumption that there are two absolutely and eternal divided "things" involved to begin with. Overemphasizing the exclusivity of the self-other divide cellf-imprisons us human selves in cellves of our own mistaken making.
Look at any cell in your body. Where’s all this energy coming from? From a sort of biological fire. Metabolism is the process of burning fuel; each and every one of us is burning alive.
In a roaring fire, where is the line between one flicker of flame and an other?
And the same heat, the same light, the same divine fire burns within us All: We consume the fruit of the earth, arise in its burning, and return from whence we came, our (only apparent) death and disintegration continuing the cycle by returning us into fuel for the divine fire; so, everywhere I look, I know:
"President Obama ran, and he carried the hopes and dreams of young Americans with him. I would tell him, should I meet with him face to face, is to be a man, take control of this situation, ‘cuz this is totally out of control," Louisiana Shrimp Assoc. Pres. Clint Gidry said on this morning’s broadcast of Democracy Now!.
Dear brother, who says it was in control to begin with? And who controls the controllers? Do we dominate, or dance with, Mother Nature? Alan Watts provides an illuminating perspective in his 1970s talk, Seeing Through The Net.
(For some reason, I’m unable to bring up the audio downloads site at this time. Seeing Through The Net is also available as part of a set of CDs titled The Tao of Philosopy. In the meantime, free weekly podcasts are available of Alan Watts on iTunes. For more information on Alan Watts, visit allanwatts.net.)
The transcription of the complete talk (below the video) is my own. Note that this video is part one of four.
Alan Watts: Seeing Through the Net
Well now, what I want to do is have a mutual brain-picking session, and uh I’m going to start the ball rolling by saying why I, as a philosopher, am interested in many things you are all probably interested in professionally. Basically, what we’re going to talk about, I suppose, is the problem of control, as exemplified in the ancient Latin question, Quis custodiet custodies ipsos? Who guards the guards?
[VIDEO BEGINS HERE] Now, we know that we’re living in an age when uh there’s been an enormous proliferation of techniques for subjecting every kind of natural process outside the human skin and now increasingly inside the human skin to some form of rational control. And, as we succeed in doing this, it also becomes apparent that we’ve—we’re failing, that the process becomes of such a high degree of complexity that we begin to feel that we are standing in our own way; that uh everybody complains that the state of affairs in the modern world, in the technological world, is so complicated that nobody can understand it, and nobody really knows what to do.
That, for example, you want to run a small business, and you find you run into such enormous legal hassles that you need so-many secretaries to do the work that you can hardly do the business. That you’re trying to run a hospital, but you have to spend so much time making records and writing things down on paper that you don’t have much time to practice medicine. That you’re trying to run a university, and the requirements, the recording, and the endless red tape of the registrar’s office and the administration building that the actual work, of research and teaching, is seriously hampered.
So the individual increasingly feels himself obstructed by his own cautiousness. This is basically what it is.
Now, to explain myself, because most of you are strangers to me, I am a philosopher who has been interested for many years in the mutual fructification of Eastern cultures and Western cultures, studying Oriental ideas not in the spirit of saying, to the West, ‘You ought to be converted to Oriental ideas,’ but in the spirit of saying, ‘You don’t understand the basic assumptions of your own culture if your own culture is the only culture you know.
Everybody operates on certain basic assumptions, but very few people know what they are. You can, say, very often encounter the kind of character who is an American business man, and he says, ‘Well, I’m a practical business man, I believe in getting results and things done and all this thinking and high-falutin’ logic and nonsense is of no concern to me. Now, I know that the practical basic assumptions—the metaphysics of that man, can be defined as pragmatism, as a school of philosophy, but it’s bad pragmatism ‘cuz he’s never thought it through.
And so it’s very difficult, you see, to get down to what are your basic assumptions—what do you mean by The Good Life, what do you mean by consistency, what do mean by rationality? The only way to find out what you mean by these things is by contrasting the way you look at something by the way it’s looked at in another culture, and therefore we have to find cultures which are in some ways as sophisticated as our own, but as different from our own as possible, and of course, for this purpose, I always thought that the Chinese were optimal, and the Indians, the East Indians, and that, by studying the ideas of these people, by studying their life goals, we can become more aware of our own. It’s the old principle of triangulation.
You don’t establish the situation of a particular object unless you observe it from two different points of view, and thereby calculate its actual distance from you. So by looking at what we are pleased to call reality, the physical world, from the basic standpoints of different cultures, I think we’re in a better position to know where we are, than if we have one single line of sight. And therefore this has been my interest and my background.
And arising out of this there is a further question, which I would call the problems of human ecology: how is man to be best related to his environment? Especially in circumstances where we are in possession of an extremely powerful technology and have, therefore, the capacity to change our environment far more than anyone else has ever been able to do so. Are we going to end up not by civilizing the world, but by Los-Angelizing it? In other words, are we going to foul our own nest as a result of technology?
But all this gets down to—the basic question is, really, what are you going to do if you’re god?
If, in other words, you find yourself in charge of the world, through technological powers, and instead of leaving evolution to what we used to call, in the 19th century, the blind processes of nature—that was begging the question, to call them blind—but at any rate, we say, we’re not going to leave evolution to the blind forces of nature but now we’re going to direct it ourselves.
Because we are increasingly developing, say, control over genetic systems, control over the nervous system, control over all kinds of systems; uh then, simply, what do you want to do with it?
But most people don’t know what they want. And have never even seriously confronted the question of what they want. You ask a group of students to sit down and write a solid paper of 20 pages on, What is your idea of heaven? What would you really like to have happen, if you could make it happen? And that’s the first thing that really starts people thinking because you soon realize that a lot of the things you think you would want are not things you want at all.
Supposing, just for the sake of illustration, that you had the power to dream every night any dream you wanted to dream. And you could, of course, arrange for one night of dreams to be seventy-five years of objective time, or any number of years of subjective time, what would you do? Well, of course, you’d start out by fulfilling every wish. You would have routs and orgies and uh uh all the most magnificent food and uh sexual partners and everything you could possibly imagine in that direction. When you got tired of that, after several nights, you’d switch a bit, and find yourself involved in adventures, and uh contemplating great works of art, fantastic mathematical conceptions; you would soon be rescuing princesses from dragons, and all sorts of things like that. And then one night you’d say, now look, Tonight what we’re gonna do is, we’re going to forget this dream is a dream. And we’re going to be really uh shocked, and when you woke up from that one you’d say, ‘Oooh, wasn’t that an adventure!’
Then you would think more and more far out ways to get involved, and let go of control, knowing that you’d always come back to center in the end. But while you were involved in the dream you wouldn’t know you were going to come back to center and be in control. And so, eventually, you’d be dreaming a dream in which you found yourselves all sitting around in this room listening to me talking, all involved with the particular life problems which you have. And maybe that’s what you’re doing. [Laughs.]
The difficulty of control: are you wise enough, to play at being god? And to understand what that question means, we’ve got to go back to metaphysical assumptions underlying Western common sense. And whether you are a Jew, or a Christian, or an agnostic, or an atheist, you are not uninfluenced by the whole tradition of Western culture: the models of the universe which it has employed, which influence our very language, the structure of our thought, the very constitution of logic, which are going into, say, computers.
The Western model of the universe is political. And engineering or architectural. It’s natural for a child to ask its mother, How was I made? It would be inconceivable for a Chinese child to ask, How was I made; it might ask, How was I grown? Or how did I grow, but not how was I made, as if I were an artifact. Something put together, something which is a construct. All Western thought is based on the thought that the universe is a construct. And even when we got rid of the idea of the constructor, the personal god, uh we continued to think of the world in terms of a machine, in terms say of Newtonian mechanics, and later in terms of what we call quantum mechanics, although I find it rather difficult to understand how quantum theory is, in any sense, mechanics. It’s much more like organics, which is, to me, a different concept. However that may be, it has percolated, you see, into the roots of our common sense: that the world is a construct, is an artifact.
And therefore, as one understands the operations of a machine, by analysis of its parts, by separating them into their original bits, we have bitted the cosmos and see everything going on in terms of bits of information, and have found that this is extremely fruitful in enabling us to control what’s happening. After all, the whole of Western technology is the result of bitting.
Let’s suppose, you know, you want to eat a chicken: you can’t eat the whole chicken at once, you have to bite it, you have to reduce it to bits. But you don’t get a cut-up fryer out of an egg. It doesn’t come that way. So what has happened is this.
That, we don’t know the origins of this, it maybe goes back thousands of years, the way we develop the art of thinking, which is essentially calculus, is this: the universe, as it comes, in nature, the physical universe, is something like a Rorschach blot: it’s all wiggles. Uh, we, who live in cities, are not really used to this, because we build everything in straight lines and rectangles and so on. Where ever you see this sort of thing, you know human beings have been around, because they’re always trying to straighten things out.
But nature itself is clouds, it’s water, it’s the outline of continents, it’s mountains, it’s uh biological existences, and all of them wiggle, and wiggly things are, to human consciousness, a little bit of a nuisance. Because we want to figure it out. And it is as if, therefore, some ancient fisherman one day held up his net, and looked at the world through the net. And he said, My, just think of that: there, I can see the view; and that is one—that peak of that mountain is one two three four five six holes across; and the base is one two three four five holes down. Now I’ve got its number! See?
And so, the lines of latitude and longitude, the lines of celestial and terrestrial latitude and longitude, the whole idea of a matrix, of a uh looking at things through graph paper painted or printed on cellophane, is the basic idea of measurement. This is the way we calculate. We break down the wiggly-ness of the world comprehensible, countable, geometrical units, and thereby figure it and construct it in those terms.
And this is so successful—up to a point—that we can, of course, come to imagine that this is the way the physical world really is. Discrete, discontinuous, full of points, in fact a mechanism. But I want to just put into your mind the notion that this may be the prejudice of a certain personality type.
You see, in the history of philosophy and poetry and art, we always find the interchange of two personality types which I call “prickles” and “goo.” The prickly people are uh advocates of intellectual porcupinism, uh they want rigor, they want p-r-r-ecise sta-tis-tics, and they have a certain clipped attitude in their voices, and you know this very well in academic circles, where there are people who are always edgy like that. And they accuse other people of being disgustingly vague, and miasmic, and mystical. But the vague, miasmic and mystical people accuse the prickly people of being mere skeletons with no flesh on their bones. And they say to you, ‘You just rattle! You’re not really a human being. You know the words, but you don’t know the music.’
And so, therefore, if you belong to the prickly type, you hope that the ultimate constituent of matter is particles; if you belong to the gooey type, you hope it’s waves; if you are prickly, you’re a classicist; and if you’re gooey, you’re a romanticist; and, going back into Medieval philosophy: if you’re prickly, you’re a nominalist; if you’re gooey, you’re a realist. And uh so it goes.
But we know very well this universe is neither prickles nor goo exclusively: it’s gooey prickles and prickly goo. And uh [laughs] you see, it all depends on your level of magnification. If you’ve got your magnification on something so that the focus is clear, you’ve got a prickly point of view; you’ve got structure, shape, clearly outlined, sharply defined. You go a little out of focus and it goes blaa, and you’ve got goo. But we’re always playing with the two. Because, it’s like the question is um: is the world basically stuff, like matter; or is it basically structure? Well, we find out of course today in that, in science, we don’t consider the idea of matter, of there being just some sort of stuff, because supposing you wanted to describe ‘stuff:’ in what terms would you describe it? You always have to describe it in terms of structure, something countable, something that can be designated in a pattern. So we never get to any basic stuff.
It seems to me that this way of thinking is based on a form of consciousness which we could best call ‘scanning:’ the capacity to divide experiences into bits is somehow related to a physical facility which corresponds to sweeping a radar beam, or a spotlight, over the environment.
The value of the spotlight, is it gives you intensely concentrated light on restricted areas. A floodlight, by comparison, has less intensity but if you examine, say this room were in total darkness, and you used a spotlight, very thin beam, and you scanned the room with it, you would have to retain in memory all the areas over which it passed, and then, by an additive process, you would make out the contours of the room.
And it seems to me this is something in which civilized man, both in the East and in the West, has specialized, in a method of paying attention which we call ‘noticing.’ And therefore it’s highly selective, it picks out, it’s punctive. It picks out features in the environment which we say are ‘noteworthy,’ and which we therefore register with a notation, be it the notation of words, the notation of numbers, or such a notation as say algebra or music. So that we notice those things—only those things—for which we have notation.
When a child very often a child will point at something, say to its parents, ‘What’s that?’ And they’re not clear what the child is pointing to. The child has pointed to something which we consider is not a thing. The child has pointed to an area of say of funny pattern on a dirty wall, and has noticed a figure on it. But the child doesn’t have a word for it, and says, ‘What’s that?’ And the adult says, ‘Oh, that’s just a mess.’ Because that doesn’t count for us a thing.
So you come, through this, to the understanding: what do you mean by ‘a thing.’ It’s very fascinating, to ask children, ‘What do you mean by a thing?’ And they don’t know. Because it’s one of the unexamined suppositions of the culture.
What do you mean by ‘an event?’ Well, everybody knows what an event is but nobody can say. Because a thing is a think: it’s a unit of thought, like an inch is a unit of measurement. And so we thing the world, that is to say, in order to measure a curve, you have to reduce it to point-instants, and apply the calculus; and so, in exactly the same way, in order to discuss or talk about the universe, you have to reduce it to things, but each thing or think, is as it were one grasp of that spotlight, going jeh-jeh-jeh-jeh like this, you see?
So we reduce the infinite wiggliness of the world, to grasps, or bits. We’re getting back to biting, you see, the idea of teeth, to grasps of thought, and so we thereby describe the world in terms of things, just as that fisherman could describe his view by the number of net hole over—through which the view was showing. And this has been the immensely, and apparently, successful enterprise of all technological culture, as superbly emphasized by ourselves.
But the problem that arises is this. First of all, very obviously, everybody knows, I hardly need to mention it, uh go to the science of medicine. You get a specialist, who really understands the function of the gall bladder. And he studies gall bladders gall bladders gall bladders ad infinitum, and he really thinks he knows all about it. But whenever he looks at a human being he sees him in terms of gall bladders. And so, if he operates on the gall bladder, he may do so very knowledgeably about that particular area of the organism, but he does not foresee the unpredictable effects of this operation, in other connected areas, because a human being’s gall bladder is not a thing, in the same way as um a spark plug in a car can be extracted, and a new one replaced. ‘Cuz the system isn’t the same.
There is a fundamental difference, between a mechanism and an organism, which can be described operationally: mechanism is assembled; you add this bit to that bit to that bit to that bit; but an organism grows. That is to say, when you watch, in a microscope, a solution in which crystals are forming, you don’t see this thing of little bits coming and coming and coming and joining each other and finally making up a shape. You see a solution where—well it’s like watching a photographic plate develop. Suddenly all the whole area which you’re watching seems to organize itself; to develop; to make sense, moving from the relatively simple and gooey to the relatively structured and prickly. But not by addition.
So then, if we are trying to understand and control the world through conscious attention, which is a scanning system, which takes in everything bit bit bit bit bit bit bit bit bit bit bit, what we’re going to run into is that if that’s the only method we rely on, everything is going to appear increasingly too complicated to manage. So that you get, for example, uh let’s take um the problem of the electronic industry.
The catalogs of products, that are being produced over the world by the electronic industry: who has read all the catalogs? How do you know, where you’ve got something you’re working on, whether it’s patented or not? Who else has taken out a patent? Has anybody had time to read all the catalogs? Nobody has, they’re just voluminous! It’s exactly the same in almost any other field: there’s an information explosion like a population explosion. How on earth are you going to scan all that information? Yes, of course, you can get computers to help you with this direction, but by Parkinson’s law, the sooner you become more efficient in doing this, the more the thing is going to develop so that you will have to have more efficient computers still to assimilate all the information. You’ll be ahead, but only for a short time. [Laughs.]
So you see there’s this problem of the uh sort of competition of consciousness, of it’s—how fast can you go doo-te-doo doo-te-doo de doo-te-doo de doo-te-doo de doo-te-doo and keep track of it, you see? You say, ‘I’ve got a good memory, I can keep track of that.’ And you say to you, ‘I’ll bet you you can’t, I’ll go more complicated than you.’ Musicians do this, drummers you know? And they get things going, and they start—so long as they can count, and lots of musicians do count, it’s crazy, but they do—and they count count count and they out-complicate each other to the point where, you can’t retain it any longer in memory. So you say, ‘OK, if I can’t retain it we’ve got this gadget here that can,’ and we’ve got these um marvelous mechanical memories and they’ll retain it. They’ll go much more fancy, they’ll go de doo-te-doo at a colossal speed zwwiiip like that, you see?
But it’s the same old problem. Because you’ll get something that can outdo that. So we end up asking uh—yeah, but supposing there were some other way of understanding it. Let’s go back, from the spotlight, to the floodlight, to the extraordinary capacity of the human nervous system to comprehend situations instantaneously, without analysis, that is to say, without verbal or numerical symbolism of the situation in order to understand it. I hope you understand what I mean.
We—we do do that. We have this curious ability of pattern recognition, which uh the mechanical systems have only in a primitive way. Xerox have put out a machine which recognizes figures written in almost anyone’s handwriting, provided their handwriting is fairly grade-school normal. But a computer has a terrible time trying to recognize the letter ‘a’ when it’s printed in, say, sans serif, Gothic, uh longhand, or whatever kind of ‘a’ you may write, the human recognizes instantly this pattern, but the computer is still at a disadvantage here. It seems to lack a kind of capacity I would call field organization, because it’s all punctive, it’s digital, it’s uh dut-dut-dut-dut-dut-dut-dut-dut- like a newspaper photograph, you know which, when you look at it under a microscope is all dots.
Now—so the problem is this. In developing technology, are we leaving out of consideration our strongest suit, which is the brain itself? See, we are at a situation where the brain is still not really worked out even by the most competent neurologists—this puzzles me. They can’t uh give a model of the brain, numeric or verbal language. Now you are that, you see, you are this thing: you yourself are this thing that you yourself can’t figure out. In the same way that I cannot touch the tip of this finger with the tip of this finger, I can’t bite my own teeth. But I, who is attempting to touch the tip of this finger with this finger, by the sheer complexity of my system, far more evolved than any system which I can imagine.
This is, in a way, slightly akin to the girdle theorem. That um you can’t have a system of uh, say of logic, which defines its own axioms. The axioms of any given system must always be defined in terms of a higher system. All right. So you are the most complex thing that has yet been encountered in the cosmos. And you can’t figure you out. Now you—suppose we’re going to try to do that, and become, as it were, completely transparent to ourselves, so that we could entirely understand the organization or the mechanics of our own brains. What happens when we do that?
Well you’re in the—you’re back in the situation of god. When you’re god, what are you going to do? When you’re god, you know what you’re going to do? You’re going to say, ‘Man, get lost!’ Because what you’ll want is a surprise, and when you’ve figured everything out, there won’t be any surprises, you’ll be completely bored.
The success of Fully Mechanized, Industrial-Strength, Oil-Fueled, Nuclear-Powered Control Man is the death of Mother Nature, and us along with Her. Bolivian President Evo Morales said, Mother Earth has suffered a death wound, and that was two long years ago, long before BP’s well began bleeding crude oil and gases into the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of 12,000-19,000 bbl/day.
Prof. William Black’s damning assessment of FinReg: that’s it’s entirely lacking in reforms that would prevent accountancy and control frauds (made during a May 26, 2010 interview with The Real News Network Senior Editor Paul Jay); goes perfectly with a report in Slate.com (h/t maxkeiser.com) confirming the assertions made by John Perkins: How do we build our empire? With economic hit jobs. Doesn’t that make control fraud our official (covert) policy?
Though most of Perkins’ book may be pulp fiction—we’ll probably never be able to verify his tales of payoffs, espionage, and sexual escapades—one of his claims just received unexpected confirmation from a group of serious scholars. New York University researchers Daniel Berger, Bill Easterly, Shanker Satyanath—together with Harvard economist Nathan Nunn—have analyzed Perkins’ "economic hitman" theory—that is, the theory that the U.S. government has used the CIA to promote American corporate interests abroad. (The economists prefer the term "political influence hypothesis" to "economic hitman theory.") Based on information from declassified documents detailing covert CIA operations during the Cold War, the social scientists find that Perkins’ claims are backed up by the numbers: Countries targeted for CIA political interventions started importing more U.S. products, a sign of American economic imperialism at work.
[(c.4:09 of part 2) UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-KANSAS CITY SCHOOL OF LAW PROF. WILLIAM] BLACK: Yes, it’s mostly window dressing. And, again, it’s not betting; it’s a sure thing. Accounting fraud is a sure thing. You will report record profits, and you will create record losses. We’ve seen it time and again. Since last we talked I went to Iceland at the request of folks from that government, and the report there on their three big banks shows massive accounting fraud. There’s a report out by the Irish authorities showing tremendous insider abuse at their institutions. And there’s a devastating new report that investigative reporters of Huffington Post put together that shows that ceased doing criminal referrals entirely, apparently for this entire decade. So they have not simply deregulated and de-supervised; they have decriminalized our financial sector and created an extraordinarily criminogenic environment. And what is our massive reform in response to what the FBI warned was an epidemic of fraud, warned in 2004? Essentially nothing to deal with any of the underlying causes, nothing to deal with the fraud, nothing to deal with the executive compensation, next to nothing to do with the professional compensation, nothing to do with the accounting abuses, no effective steps against the systemically dangerous institutions or the financial derivatives.
[THE REAL NEWS NETWORK SENIOR EDITOR JAY: So in the first part of the interview I asked you is there a few good things in this bill, and you described what they were. And to the audience, if you want to see that, make sure you go back and watch part one if you haven't seen it. So if you're in Congress and the bill more or less is like what you've seen coming out of the Senate and the House, would you vote for it?
BLACK: Yes, but then I would immediately introduce legislation to deal with the five real problems, the ones I just went through, none of which are effectively addressed by the bill.
Here in (ok, near) Seattle, we’re blessed with independent journalist Mike McCormick and the long-running radio program, Mind Over Matters, which he co-hosts with Diane Horn. (I have the distinction of being the first to ask Mike for his autograph. He’s called me his #1 fan. More like, pain in the ass, for sending way too many emails during the show. Sorry, Mike, pardon my enthusiasm, but your show blows my mind.)
Pepe Escobar’s latest article for Asia Times Online, The American Taliban are coming, deconstructs the "official" myth-making regarding the failed Times Square bombing, looks into the worldview of neo-jihadis like Faisal Shahzad, Dhiren Barot, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and sees blowback on America’s horizon.
Shahzad fits the profile: young, globalized and addicted to a fantasy – the virtual ummah (Muslim community). He apparently did make the conceptual leap from idealizing the ummah on the Internet to actually feeling the irresistible urge to act on the ground.
What are the traits of a neo-jihadi in Escobar’s profile?
A) "Young, globalized and addicted to fantasy."
B) "Deterritorialization:" living away from real or adopted homelands
C) "Individualistic… no orchestration would be needed by a terrorist network."
D) Narcissistic personality
As scholar Oliver Roy has put it, talking about al-Qaeda-influenced neo-jihadis, Shahzad in his own way has also become a lonely avenger, some sort of self-styled hero "who can redeem a life he is not happy with by achieving fame while escaping a world where he finds no room".
In the wake of the (failed) Times Square bombing, none of this was taken into account. It didn’t even matter that US Central Command chief General David Petraeus – always positioning himself to 2012 – allowed that Shahzad had acted as a "lone wolf". Hysteria ruled ….
And in that hysteria, shock doctrinaires such as Sen. Joe Lieberman (Party of Joe-CT), were quick to exploit even a failed attack as an occasion for further reduction of the citizenry into a target-rich environment.
Chillingly, Escobar concludes that "the new policy [of keeping assassination lists that include citizens] may well be a first step towards assassinating US citizens at home as well."
Will we soon be reaping what our drones are sowing?
In this April 3, 2008 video from The Real News Network, Paul Jay and Pepe Escobar discuss McCain’s failed attempt, to rebrand the war on terror in his own terms. The echoes of parallels with the myth-making regarding Shahzad’s own failure come through loud and clear.
Pep Escobar, in a May 7, 2010 article in Asia Times Online titled Time for a Nuclear Samba, points out recent political myth-making intended to obscure the real driving force behind the threat of nuclear war in the Middle East. Such transparent efforts, to deceive the world while using the subject of that deceit (nuclear terrorism in the name of full-spectrum dominance as official policy; see the previous diary in this series, DCM: Pepe Escobar pt2) make a mockery of every word spoken on nuclear weapons by the US.
Ahmadinejad’s position on the swap – which is the position of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as well as the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps – developed just as the Iranian president, in New York, publicly refused the US/European Union tactic of always bundling together nuclear weapons and use of nuclear energy in the same discussion. In a call that rang across the developing world, Ahmadinejad pulled no punches. He denounced the Security Council and the IAEA as being manipulated against non-nuclear states and expressly demanded the world to cease development of nuclear weapons and to ban production, storage, proliferation, maintenance and use of nuclear weapons.
Looks like the UN apparently was paying attention. Apparently. On Wednesday, the five permanent Security Council members, in a joint statement, supported the idea of making the Middle East a nuclear-weapons-free zone. That would let the (nuclear) cat out of the bag – forcing Israel to declare itself a nuclear power and join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The chances of this happening under a Benjamin Netanyahu government are slim.
In fact, Washington paid only lip service to this nuclear-free wishful thinking because it is avidly courting the Arab vote to back up a Security Council fourth round of sanctions against Iran. It remains to be seen whether Arab states, mostly US clients, will be duped by this. They do want a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East for real, Israel included.
PEPE ESCOBAR: Because there’s the pipeline angle, which is never mentioned in most analysis, especially in the US mainstream press. Iran and Pakistan—you probably remember the famous IPI pipeline, which is a direct challenger of the trans-African pipeline, which is one of the main reasons of US presence in Afghanistan. Iran and Pakistan last year, they finally reached an agreement to build the Iranian-Pakistani pipeline, which is also called the “peace pipeline,” and now it’s being known as the IP pipeline, Iran-Pakistan. This pipeline goes through Iranian Baluchistan directly to Pakistani Baluchistan. And Baluchi separatist movements are against the pipeline, because they say that Islamabad will get all the money, it won’t be redistributed to Pakistani Baluchistan. And Jundallah doesn’t want a pipeline because they don’t want a collaboration between Tehran and Islamabad using Baluchistan only as a corridor and not profiting Baluchistan in any way. This is the way they see it.
So, obviously, if they have constant destabilization of the Iranian Baluchistan area, investors—and investors not only from Iran and Pakistan, but probably international investors, as well—won’t invest in this pipeline, and the winner would be what? The trans-African pipeline, as well. So there is a vested US interest in all this matter, as well, because the Bush administration, an Iranian-Pakistani pipeline was anathema. I wouldn’t say the Obama administration is as hardcore on this matter, but obviously they would rather go for a trans-African pipeline, as well.
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