Who ordered the scrambled brains?

Filling readers with glee and indignation since 2005.

Two for you from a foo

I was thinking about a couple things this morning.

First, what makes a good writer? I don’t know all the secrets to this mystery, but I have a hunch about a few. One of the biggest things that drives me crazy is writing to fill up space. Yuck. No one wants to read extra gobbledegook anymore than anyone really wants to write it. It irks my psyche when I encounter writing that expounds unauthoritative opinions as fact (either phrase it as an opinion, or don’t say it), or repeats itself, or includes information superfluous to the intended audience. Using excessive superlatives also makes my head spin, and incorrect use of vocabulary also makes me want to check in at an insane asylum. Splitting infinitives, and ending sentences with prepositions also cause cosmological singularities to form in the center of my brain.

Distilled, dense writing is prime for professional compositio, in my opinion. Taking every written correspondence as an opportunity to exercise good writing has helped me, as has reading the Elements of Style and the newspaper everyday! Call me old-fashioned, I don’t care. Okay, rant complete.

The interesting thing about that train of thought is that it made me realize that authority and author sound the same. You shouldn’t author something, or more generally you shouldn’t claim something (whether it be an opinion as a fact, or it be the right to do something) for which you don’t have credible authority.

The other thing I was thinking about (again) was the causes and ramifications of capitalistic society. Skepticism toward strangers is the norm in our society, and seems to be an inescapable survival instinct. We never know if that person walking toward us on the street is going to disembowel us. It’s game theory at the social level. We have incomplete knowledge of social situations with strangers and therefore have to strategize our behavior. Anyway, this is inculcated in us by the capitalistic context that flows around us in Western societies our entire life.

Hobbes spoke famously about man, in the state of nature (as opposed to the state of society), living in constant fear of violent death from his fellow man. The only way to gain freedom from that fear is to give up some other freedom, by formulating a third-party entity that has sovereignty over all, and represents the will of all. (I didn’t read the rest of that book, so I’m stopping here.)

Well, I think it’s important to consider that both this conception of society, and the one I described above, both rest on the unpredictability and untrustability that others have as a product of socially respected personal privacy. Privacy is the crux. And as a member of one of these societies, I cherish it deeply. But I think I do so only because it’s all that this society gives me. Unfortunately its a false gift because privacy only empowers me (and others) to hide negative impulses or plans. I’ve lost my sovereignty, but I still fear that the guy over there might disembowel me. Imagine if somehow, privacy were completely eliminated, maybe by extreme social pressure (a formidable force). Suddenly we wouldn’t have the freedom to harbor negative intentions, and everyone would be free from the fear of violent death or disembowelment by that stranger walking toward you.

I just dream about how nice it would be not to be locked in competition with fellow intelligent beings my whole life.

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