Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pressure Points: Addendum

Alas, it's not a retraction or a clarification of that over-written piece of bloat, but rather One More Fucking Thing.

You see function even in hypocrisy, whether individual or systemic, so long as you are willing to see that lies serve functions. It is a fool or a moralist or a naif who assumes that our words are supposed to mirror or provide meaningful anticipations of other behavior. That might be your or my expectation, but nothing in the world dictates that our words have to be true. Words are inherently misleading, however well they may sometimes be used, for they are abstractions. Don't get me wrong; I think striving toward honesty has its benefits, and words have enough magic in them that they can wreak serious havoc when they are used enough and at odds with our other actions. That said, a perpetual expectation that they are to be lashed to action is going to leave you raw and angry.

So if the words and the actions are at odds, identify the function of each. This can help you find sympathy for your fellow liar and also, more importantly, understand him and his importance with slightly greater accuracy. Looking at an institution, you can dismiss the easy moralism of "they lie!" and move to how they lie and why.

Here we move into psychology, which is dangerous because the science still hasn't arrived. Neurology of trauma doesn't help us understand why some people respond to trauma in one way and others, in others. The psychology here is, as IOZ has said so completely and damningly in the past, at best absent and at worst pseudoscience and fraud. But, to stay to psychology in the lay sense of Figuring Out What the Fuck Is Going On In Others' Heads, I think we should give some thought to how others make their decisions. Perhaps there are levers, too many to count and, obviously, concealed to us, within others. Perhaps a major part of motivation, manipulation, and leadership is to understand what forces exist within individuals. Will the anarchist need to have something of the Marine recruiter and the beer commercial in her? I am not sure I like the idea, but I can't think of much alternative.

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