Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Court of Versailles

Pronounced 'Ver-psy' I believe.

Anyway, as New America recovers from the shock of discovering that their long neglected and ignored parents-Old America have decided to disinherit them and will their estate to a charismatic TV evangelist, I would like to say that for the record - I like every other tertiary educated Caucasian in the world was hoping for and expecting a Hillary win.

The corpse of the election will be picked over and it will be sorely tempting to commit a narrative fallacy where Trump's election seemed inevitable.

But fuck that noise, I want to keep it positive - and thus I wish to express some predictions and focus on one thing I have been looking forward to for 8 and a bit years. Because I expect the next 4 years to be a Bush presidency+. Under psychology 101 - the best predictor of future behavior is past relevant behavior and thus Trump is not going to be a great president even and (like Bush) especially, for his core voter base.

But what he isn't is an intellectual, which President Obama is. And I look forward to intellectualism going out of style, because it has made the last 8 years pretty painful for me, more painful than the preceding 8 of Bush where the zeitgeist was flavored by emboldened ignorance.

In terms of literal styles, I anticipate that an American Psycho-80s Business dress sense will be resurgent but I care less about material fashion than behavioral ones. And if you are already dizzy, what I'm alluding to is that who is President effects fashion trends and has been doing so since the House of Bourbon moved their summer court to Versailles. I mean the thought of red-neck racists being emboldened to spew hateful speech with abandon worries you, appreciate that Obama probably emboldened a bunch of psuedo-intellectuals to destroy people's lives with hateful internet based shaming casting people who were ignorant as willfully malicious.

The tendency for leader's behavioral styles to influence behavioral fashion trends was first expressed to me in a passage from Frank Herbert somewhere in his Dune novels. I don't have any copies on hand to find the exact quote, I suspect it was in the second book 'God-Emperor of Dune' where at the beginning of a chapter there's a note about how on the ascension of Paul Atredes to Emperor resulted in his fremen still-suits influencing an overall conservative trend in the fashions of the upper class.

To be honest, I was more curious about what effect Hillary would have had on global trends - could it possibly have removed the fucking neck-tie? itself a result of the Napoleonic court who was so appreciative of Croatian soldiers performance in battle he invited them to banquet and the neck tie caught on with the Parisian fashion crowd and now most white collar working males have to wear this expensive and useless piece of shit 5 days a week.

And I digress, because my consolation prize is that intellectualism will almost certainly go out of style... I mean to the extent that it has been an amplified main-stream phenomena, I suspect attempts to appear more intelligent than you actually are are as likely to vanish completely as attempts to be more beautiful than you actually are is ever likely to. Being perceived as beautiful and/or intelligent get you something in our society.

And I am not so physically beautiful as to be able to testify as to whether there is a behavioral phenomena of people aspiring to beauty - those that invest time, energy and money into their physical appearance in order to try and 'jump rank' - tend to sidle up to those who are beautiful by popular acclaim hoping to get some kind of validation that their efforts are paying off.

But I have for most of my life, been perceived as intelligent - even though 'intelligence' itself is a vague and fuzzy concept that I don't understand - and also despite me having little to show for the intelligence I'm often labelled with. I can definitely testify that there is a phenomena of the intellectually aspirant to sidle up to me and try and impress me or connect or bond in some way so as to validate their efforts.

Ironically, the smart thing to do if you want to look smart is avoid the company of intellectuals like the plague. Another great tip if you don't feel intelligent, but value intelligence comes from Mark Twain 'better to have everyone think you a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.' It takes discipline but being coyly silent is much more likely to win you an argument than engaging in an argument.

And I'll admit, in new situations there is some conscious part of me that likes to impress upon others my relative intellect. But this to me should be like silver back gorillas posturing to impress upon others that they are the dominant male, flexing my grey muscle, is more of a testosterone driven ego trip for me because as mentioned, being perceived as intelligent gets you things - for one thing you can wear shorts every day and get treated with the respect normally afforded to people who wear pants.

What's weird is that gorillas get tiny testicles because their posturing works to drive other male competitors away, I'm perplexed as to why demonstrating what intellect I have often attracts people to come try and flex their grey muscle at me.

And the last 8 years have been painful for this, and I blame Obama. People conflating 'knowledge' with 'intelligence' and thus trying to read their way into geniushood, adopting affectations of intellectualism - like complexity, big words, overvaluing the inaccessible, obsessively keeping up to date with current affairs and watching TED talks...

Of course, the trouble with talking about how frustrating it is to see people trying to affect intelligence is the slippery nature of intelligence itself. It's impossible to perceive how intelligent you aren't, because it takes intelligence to recognise and evaluate intelligence. Regarding my own intelligence - I feel intelligent, but I'm skeptical that I'm an intellectual though. For example, I imagine if Noam Chomsky were to read this or any other blog post I'd written he'd be thoroughly unimpressed. Other clues I have are how long and verbose my posts are - I am not capable of writing like Orwell or Lincoln, which is to say, succinctly and in plain language, and most importantly evoking strong emotions.

And lest reading this feels like I'm taking a shit on you, I do know a lot of smart people. The trouble is that Obama's impact on the zeitgeist is that being smart got overvalued. People felt inadequately smart and sadly, often they were right. I used to play this quick and dirty intelligence test that was fairly reliable - it went 'Would you rather be not-quite-smart-enough OR dumb enough?' results conformed to my expectations to a surprising degree.

Most smart people I know though, struggle to be empirical and in that way should not be casting any stones at Trump voters. I know very few people who have employed their intellectual capacities to realise that pound-for-pound charisma gets you far more than intelligence does and I predict this revelation to remain elusive to my smart friends even in the face of a Trump Administration.

The election map was a good example of educating yourself into stupidity. You could see the brain drain of educated people moving to urban centers that reinforced their extant beliefs and also put their voting power into electorates where it didn't count for much. We also live in a media environment that had them looking through a prism of treating whether Ghostbusters can be female and Star Wars having Asians seemed important issues to devote energy to. Being on the one hand sensitive to small numbers of people with seemingly ever increasingly rarefied (but oppressed) identities took all the psychic energy away from considering large numbers of unexciting and un-glamorous people economically devastated (mostly by the candidates they are prone to elect, with no change expected) and isolated by structural unemployment (a historical non-investment in skilling up and retraining factory/rural workers with transferable job skills).

Trump is going to be painful, but hopefully both rapid and aggressive because the key resource that needs conservation is time. Before most of the votes were tallied I was already cringing at analysis talking about the surprise turn up of 'rural uneducated voters' which can lead 'educated' voters to think these people need protecting from themselves, or perhaps they need 'educating' aka being told by people they can't relate to how wrong they are.

And with that, I hope you can relate to me enough that some of these words sink in, and you can perhaps rest easy today about reading up on the most sophisticated analysis of what happened, given that it wont make you feel any more potent than how impotent you've been feeling the last 24 hours. You can maybe even skip attempting to recreate that analysis as your own wise opinion in a facebook status update, thus schooling your friends in just how schooled you are. Or whatever go for it, you got a few more weeks of Obama, intellectualism isn't so 2016 just yet.

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