“The actual propositional content of doctrines has little to do with how religion works socially. Far more than the content of faith as such, what makes religion religion are the images and rhetoric loaded with atavistic and esoteric archetypes (chaos; order; Kek; frogs; a ‘God Emperor,’ to use a common 4chan appellation for Donald Trump) that tend to propagate virally, independent of a centralized source, because they tie into the cultural zeitgeist or answer some cultural need. […] Every time a meme is replicated or a symbol is reused, it only strengthens the socially determined bond of meaning.” — Tara Isabella Burton
This website was archived on July 21, 2019. It is frozen in time on that date.
Sonya Mann's active website is Sonya, Supposedly.
“It is a commonplace that the history of civilisation is largely the history of weapons. In particular, the connection between the discovery of gunpowder and the overthrow of feudalism by the bourgeoisie has been pointed out over and over again. And though I have no doubt exceptions can be brought forward, I think the following rule would be found generally true: that ages in which the dominant weapon is expensive or difficult to make will tend to be ages of despotism, whereas when the dominant weapon is cheap and simple, the common people have a chance. Thus, for example, tanks, battleships and bombing planes are inherently tyrannical weapons, while rifles, muskets, long-bows and hand-grenades are inherently democratic weapons. A complex weapon makes the strong stronger, while a simple weapon — so long as there is no answer to it — gives claws to the weak.” — George Orwell
This bodes ill for us little people, since warfare-level weapons are getting less and less accessible. On the other hand, cyber power (AKA hacking) is pretty damn democratic.
“All systems of communication and control — from the human mind to an command and control network — can be subtly degraded, disabled, or subverted by feeding them false inputs or exploiting weaknesses in how they process, evaluate, and act on information. […] We sit at the threshold of an new era characterized by the ubiquity of adaptive, data-hungry systems and a corresponding society characterized more and more by the offloading of its collective memory, cognition, and reasoning to computers. [… O]ur increasingly informatized identities, culture, society, media, and politics can be easily manipulated by actors that understand how the organization of information networks determines their influence on our beliefs and behaviors.” — Adam Elkus
“Strange dueling subcultures and their own narratives, folk beliefs, superstitious techno-animism, language-games — to the extent that any kind of ‘database culture’ can be called a narrative as opposed to simply just a collection of memetic primitives — have taken control of the means (perhaps now memes) of knowledge production.” — also Adam Elkus
“To the extent that voters care about government, they mostly just want it to act to benefit people like themselves. People do care about politics — but current politics is mostly not about government. It is about tribal identity and personal status.” — David Chapman
Venkatesh Rao wrote a very long personal reflection called “King Ruinous and the City of Darkness”, which sprawls over both ancient and modern stretches of Indian history. The text is difficult to summarize in a couple of sentences, because it’s an expansive overview of how Rao came to think in the way that he does. But here are two quotes that jumped out at me:
“There are no real reasons and motivations in Indian politics. As with the rest of the world, politics in India is the art and science of the possible. You do what you can do. You spin the story whichever way you can spin it. The perception problem and the action problem need have no relation to each other, so long as you have solutions to both.”
“One does not simply exit the caste system, but one can sure as hell scramble it beyond recognition and render it unusable by having software and urban modernity eat it. This, incidentally, has been the single most positive development I’ve witnessed in my life. If software can eat the Indian caste system, it can eat anything.”
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