The Underground Lady [Page Forty]

When one is very tired, and sleep finally comes, one’s dreams are so obvious and so revealing of one’s motives that it is almost embarrassing to relate to them.  These are not the most profound dreams, and they certainly are not the most interesting for others to hear about.  But these dreams, the dreams of exhaustion, are often the most useful to the dreamer who actually wishes to interpret and know himself better.

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Politics assumes many unconscious impulses—greed, hunger for power, a drive to master others—and often these impulses are absent in people.  Most people hardly ever think in these terms, on any level, or act from these motives, even unconsciously.  This is mostly an example of the political class projecting their obsessions onto others.

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Technocrats see communities and individuals in terms of what they lack.  They are trained to see deficiencies, and, supposedly, to fix them.  But their negativity is the real ideological point, it deepens and broadens control.  It provides a justification for the worst, most ineffective efforts to “fix” what is wrong with others.  This is sadism, and this is the essence of authority, of any type, under any system or regime.

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Once people see that they are not really failures, once they have this breakthrough, they refuse to defer to authority.  The culture of deference amongst themselves is so important to those in power—all the bowing and posturing and worrying about who snubbed whom—because they rely on deference to keep control in a broader sense.  The ridiculous extremes to which this “insider” cult has gone lately indicates a deep insecurity on the part of the Western political class.  They worry that no one respects them enough for all their power to matter, for it to have anything more than a passing impact on people, and their handlers in business are beginning to think the same thing.

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Trade agreements like NAFTA and the old GATT, and the multilateral agreements made between groups of states, both developing and wealthy, since the collapse of the WTO, are what really structure the role the U.S. and EU play in the world.  The politicians in these states are severely limited in their power to act beyond the conditions set by these treaties.  Politicians really are not in control at all anymore, corporations are.

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Humanism, the official philosophy of global capital, styles itself as a battle against falsehood, the falsehoods of the premodern past.  But through its attachments to power, humanism is required to build a whole new set of myths at the same time, and to replace the old myths with these new ones, much like one replaces one pestilence for another by using a more invasive species to offset the presence of some simpler parasite.

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The attempt to regain control of humanism, as a working concept, from the bottom up, socially, economically, and politically, needs to be abandoned.  We need a whole new concept of life.

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The Underground Lady says: “Disbelieve everything.”  Taking her advice, I choose to believe in some, and discard the rest.

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Don’t misunderstand me.  There are no paths forward but the empirical.  What is is an unavoidable category.  And, like the real content of a nightmare half remembered, it contains unimaginable terrors.

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Don’t preach the realization of nothingness as if it were to be greeted with happiness and calm.  Wisdom is a slow introduction into horror.

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The human sphere is not a microcosm of the universe.  We are an odd exception.  The universe is composed of things, which are in turn composed mostly of matter and energy too subtle almost to be detected by the most sophisticated instruments.  And the universe does not care—meaning that it does not regard, or believe,  or disbelieve, in anything.  It is indifferent.  Even less engaged with us than that.

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When one both disbelieves in a myth, sees through it, and no longer cares that others go right on believing in it, then one can speak to them about their mistake with detachment and equanimity.

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Education is important, but an education without a firm grounding in empiricism is like a bridge without its supports: an improbable construction.

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Empiricism does not admit to the existence of a thing until it is hemmed around with proof.  And even then, the empiricist remains doubtful, and supremely critical, but not negatively so, not in an ideological sense.  This last note of caution argues against the sort of pseudo-empirical criticism we are seeing cropping up in debates over a number of subjects, including evolution and global warming, a type of criticism that begins with obvious ideological fetters weighing it down.  One should never be disingenuous in a debate over the existence of a thing, or allow others to be so—it is a very special, a very important, and a very delicate type of debate.

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Agnosticism is never my position.  The relationship between agnosticism and empiricism is like that between the man who sees lights floating out in the fields at night, and wonders what they are, and goes on wondering, and the man who goes out into the darkness to find out.

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