Sisyphus Today

Hubby, in a moment typical of his wry wit, said to me the other day:

Your persistence could be confused with masochism.”

“HA! Wouldn’t that make a good meme” I replied.

But the more I got to thinking about it, the more I remembered the story of Sisyphus.

For those unfamiliar with this character in Greek myth, here’s a few select quotes from Wikipedia:

“As a punishment for his crimes Hades made Sisyphus roll a huge boulder endlessly up a steep hill in Tartarus.[8][18][19] The maddening nature of the punishment was reserved for Sisyphus due to his hubristic belief that his cleverness surpassed that of Zeus himself. Hades accordingly displayed his own cleverness by enchanting the boulder into rolling away from Sisyphus before he reached the top which ended up consigning Sisyphus to an eternity of useless efforts and unending frustration. Thus, it came to pass that pointless or interminable activities are sometimes described as “Sisyphean”. Sisyphus was a common subject for ancient writers and was depicted by the painter Polygnotus on the walls of the Lesche at Delphi.[20]”

“In experiments that test how workers respond when the meaning of their task is diminished, the test condition is referred to as the Sisyphusian condition. The two main conclusions of the experiment are that people work harder when their work seems more meaningful, and that people underestimate the relationship between meaning and motivation.[25]”

My introduction to the myth came through Albert Camus, one of my favorite authors while at university. Again, from Wiki:

“Influenced by philosophers such as Søren KierkegaardArthur Schopenhauer, and Friedrich Nietzsche, Camus introduces his philosophy of the absurd. The absurd lies in the juxtaposition between the fundamental human need to attribute meaning to life and the “unreasonable silence” of the universe in response.[1] Camus claims that the realization of the absurd does not justify suicide, and instead requires “revolt.” He then outlines several approaches to the absurd life. In the final chapter, Camus compares the absurdity of man’s life with the situation of Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythologywho was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again.

The essay concludes, “The struggle itself … is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy”.

What absurdity we have witnessed these last few years! How many of us have become Sisyphus in so many ways—whether trying to open the eyes of our friends and loved ones and wider community, or trying to navigate the New Normal, or make sense of the media and political shit show?

Some advice from Camus? Maybe, maybe not. He wasn’t too big on Hopium.

“There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.”

And how about this clever little cartoon as a modern-day Sisyphus myth?

How the Predator Sees You

When you draw a heart, you are showing them where to aim.

“LaVey had one solid philosophy non-Satanists need to adopt: self-preservation. LaVey likely picked this up from Nietzsche.
“There has never been a great ‘love’ movement in the history of the world that hasn’t wound up killing countless numbers of people, we must assume, to prove how much they loved them! Every hypocrite who ever walked the earth has had pockets bulging with love!”

A Prima Facie Examination of Satanism | Winter Watch

This is what Alice Bailey describes as the “externalization of the hierarchy”: the hidden rulers slowly revealing themselves.

“The “simpler code” devised for the masses used to be organized religions. It is now becoming the Temple of the Mass Media and it preaches on a daily basis extreme materialism, spiritual vacuosity and a self-centered, individualistic existence. This is exactly the opposite of the attributes required to become a truly free individual, as taught by all great philosophical schools of thought. Is a dumbed-down population easier to deceive and to manipulate?

“These blind slaves are told they are “free” and “highly educated” even as they march behind signs that would cause any medieval peasant to run screaming away from them in panic-stricken terror. The symbols that modern man embraces with the naive trust of an infant would be tantamount to billboards reading, ‘This way to your death and enslavement,’ to the understanding of the traditional peasant of antiquity.”
– Michael A. Hoffman II, Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare

“Meanwhile Mitterrand’s Minister of Culture, Jack Lang, led a relentless policy of promotion of the “culture of inversion” (defined recently by Paul Kingsnorth as the dedication of “the cultural elites, and sometimes the political and economic elites… not to upholding the cultural forms they inherited, but to turning them on their heads, or erasing them entirely.”) This program manifested itself in such examples as raves in the Louvre and post-modern ballets featuring excrement and menstrual blood. This was the era in which Mélenchon came of age as a member of Mitterrand’s socialist party, where he held positions of senator and then minister. The Mélenchon of 2022 is very clearly the heir of this moment, not a new invention or deviation.

“This is the “peripheral” France—rural, consisting of small- and medium-sized towns and overseas territories—upon which Bernard-Henri Levy each day vomits his class hatred, despite the fact that, for over thirty years, it has been hit hard by the practical consequences of his liberal gospel, to the point that, in the poorest rural regions, living conditions are even more dramatic than in the “problem” suburbs. It comes as no surprise that this France, which comprises more than 60 percent of the population, has been completely wiped off the left intelligentsia’s radar. It is simply the logical consequence of the process that has led the modern left, since its conversion to the principles of economic and cultural liberalism, to gradually abandon its original social base in favor of the new, overeducated and hyper-mobile upper-middle classes living in globalized metropolises, who represent only 10 to 20 percent of the population and are structurally protected from liberal globalization’s problems (when they do not benefit directly from it) […]

Creating the Climate Crisis II

If you’ve wondered why Geoengineering has not been front-and-center in the prolonged and highly contentious discussion on Climate Change, maybe some past quotes from Rabbi Jay Michaelson will prove enlightening. He suggested in 1998 a new Manhattan Project.

“Geoengineering more than just “feels wrong.” [FN227] The tunnel-vision of geoengineering robs the environmental community of the ability to solve other critical problems at the same time as climate change: deforestation and overconsumption, for example. Surely, it is better to just get used to the idea of “living lightly” [FN228] than to scatter dust in the sky or seed oceans with iron, especially when living lightly is good for all of us anyway.

Moreover, an environmentalist’s distaste for the materialistic ideals that undergird the root causes of climate change does not make attempting to thwart those ideals either practical or morally *133 justified. Conspicuous consumption is deeply entrenched in American self-conceptions, and in conceptions of Americans by people in the developing world who want to be like them. [FN231]

I suggest it is both unwise and counter-democratic to tell billions of consumers that “We Know Better,” and set about changing deep structures without regard to the life-defining goals of the consumers themselves. Such action is unwise because it pins the biosphere’s integrity on the hope of overcoming something deeply ingrained in Western culture. And it is counter-democratic because, until the members of that culture change its constitutive forces, overcoming them in the name of a paternalistic deep environmentalism thwarts their clearly expressed preferences. [FN232]

To take a more familiar example, it would surely be optimal to empower oppressed indigenous people at the same time as we save a tropical rainforest by granting local populations more control over forest resources. But if a simple purchase of land will save more rainforest, and a separate human-rights campaign can help the indigenous people, and if each has a better chance for success than the integrated empowerment solution, then perhaps it is wiser to divide and conquer. Better to divide opponents whose interests differ and reach incremental consensus than fight them all at once and lose. A policy of land rights for indigenous people may offend agricultural interests, governing power elites, present title holders, and a host of other constituencies. A land purchase, on the other hand, offends fewer people, may please some (power elites for instance), and is more likely to succeed. Meanwhile, a separate human rights campaign is unlikely to interest agricultural users or (some) transnational corporations, and it also is more likely to succeed. Killing one bird at a time may be the “right” way to go, because it minimizes opposition and makes coalition-building easier.

Climate change is an excellent subterfuge; it allows environmentalists to “get at” fossil fuel use, deforestation, perhaps even overconsumption itself– in the name of saving civilization as we know it. Geoengineering, in contrast, gets at nothing other than climate change. On the contrary, not only does sowing plots of ocean with iron filings not save the rainforest, it costs environmentalists precious leverage in their efforts to do so because some of the pressure to address the underlying causes is relieved. [FN240] One of the very strengths of geoengineering–that it requires relatively little sacrifice–is thus one of its great drawbacks to political environmentalists. Anyone who wants to use climate change as a way to “get at” some undesirable but politically popular activity will be sorely disappointed by a geoengineering project.

Political sleight-of-hand can engender a certain ambivalence. It is somewhat dishonest, and can be counterproductive, as in the case of a hopeless but photogenic species such as the California condor being saved instead of more needy but less attractive candidates. Sleight-of-hand can also be a tremendous gamble; trying to kill two birds with one stone is often riskier than trying to kill just one. In the case of climate change, using the biosphere’s climatic integrity as a leverage point is quite a risk: if scientists are right, we may be in deep trouble if GHG emissions and deforestation (the “real targets”) are not reduced. When the nominal goal is itself important, sleight-of-hand is a high-stakes game.

In the end, the debate about geoengineering is largely a debate about what sorts of environmental policies to pursue in an imperfect world. It seems almost preposterous to buck the trends of holistic systems management and suggest running like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice from symptom to symptom. It may also seem as though driving less or cutting fewer trees is simpler than scattering dust particles in the stratosphere. It is certainly more elegant. But when the Damocles’ sword of massive biotic disruption is hanging over our heads, we should choose what works. And the bottom line is that, though the regulatory strategies envisioned in Kyoto must continue to play out their roles, we need more than a global Marshall Plan of incentives and reductions to avert potentially disastrous climatic change.

We need a Manhattan Project.”

Excerpts taken from: Jay Michaelson in the Stanford Environmental Law Journal

Geoengineering: A Climate Change Manhattan Project Stanford Environmental Law Journal January, 1998 Copyright © 1998 Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University; Jay Michaelson geomanhattanproj.pdf

Jay Michaelson also writes about LGBTQ, abortion, spirituality and Jewish issues for top publications.

Eye-Opening Quotes: R. Hutchins

“The countries of the West are committed to universal, free, compulsory education. The United States first made this commitment and has extended it further than any other. In this country 92.5% of the children who are fourteen years old and 71.3% of those between fourteen and seventeen are in school. It will not be suggested that they are receiving the education that the democratic ideal requires. The West has not accepted the proposition that the democratic ideal demands liberal education for all. In the United States, at least, the prevailing opinion seems to be that the demands of that ideal are met by universal schooling, rather than by universal liberal education. What goes on in school is regarded as of relatively minor importance. The object appears to be to keep the child off the labor market and to detain him in comparatively sanitary surroundings until we are ready to have him go to work.

“The results of universal, free, compulsory education in America can be acceptable only on the theory that the object of the schools is something other than education, that it is, for example, to keep the young from cluttering up homes and factories during a difficult period of their lives, or that it is to bring them together for social or recreational purposes.”

“Education is supposed to have something to do with intelligence. It was because of this connection that it was always assumed that if the people were to have political power they would have to have education. They would have to have it if they were to use their power intelligently. This was the basis of the Western commitment to universal, free, compulsory education. I have suggested that the kind of education that will develop the requisite intelligence for democratic citizenship is liberal education, education through great books and the liberal arts, a kind of education that has all but disappeared from the schools, colleges, and universities of the United States.”

~The Great Conversation: The Substance of a Liberal Education
by Robert M. Hutchins, 1952

More by Hutchins . . .

“Because of experimental science we know a very large number of things about the natural world of which our predecessors were ignorant. In the great books we can observe the birth of science, applaud the development of the experimental technique, and celebrate the triumphs it has won. But we can also note the limitations of the method and mourn the errors that its misapplication has caused. We can distinguish the outlines of those great persistent problems that the method … may never solve and find the clues to their solutions offered by other methods and other disciplines.”

“Liberal education was aristocratic in the sense that it was the education of those who enjoyed leisure and political power. If it was the right education for those who had leisure and political power, then it is the right education for everybody today.”

Zuckerkandl! a comic book Hutchins published in 1968, later made into a cartoon short, narrated himself. It’s about disentanglement and living guilt-free and is said to be a parody of Freud.

Eye-Opening Quotes: Privilege

Oscar of the Waldorf-Astoria

“American homemakers are increasingly aware of their rich heritage of cooking, of its wide variety as a result of its regional origins. We have the fine culinary traditions of those who settled in Louisiana, Virginia, New England, the South, the North, the East, and the West. No statement of the excellence of the cooking of American homemakers, who are representative of every race of mankind, is complete without a reference to the fine cooking of the Negroes of the South, who are natural gourmets. They seem to have inherited a sort of tradition of good cooking, and it may be that this will have a large place in the final development of a real American type of cookery.”

Introduction, The Gold Cookbook by Master Chef Louis P. De Gouy
1947

Oscar Tschirky

Just a couple of decades later, and in another book, on another topic, which to me at least, is not at all unrelated . …

An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power

“When Lyndon Johnson succeeded to the presidency on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, he proved to be a very different president. A decade older than Kennedy, Johnson was fully a son of the New Deal, one with deep faith that government could solve social and economic problems. . .. With the help of an overwhelming electoral victory in November that year, Johnson prodded Congress to pass bill after bill. The Equal Opportunity Act (1964), Mass Transit Act (1965), Appalachian Regional Development Act (1965) Head Start (1965), the Demonstration Cities and Metropolitan Development Act (1966), Higher Education Act (1967). Along with many other, smaller, programs that involved the federal government in areas of national life it had never before been concerned with, these cause a breathtaking rise in federal expenditures. Nondefense government expenditures rose by a third in just three years, from 1965 to 1968, from $75 billion to $100 billion. Two years later they were $127 billion. Meanwhile, the Vietnam War escalated quickly. In 1965 the defense budget had been $50 billion. In 1968 it was $82 billion.”
(P. 382)

John Steele Gordon

Eye-Opening Quotes: M.Tsarion

Excerpted from the article: Deep Peaks – michaeltsarion

“Patients no longer complain of inferiority feelings or sexual frustration as they did in the age of Adler and Freud. Today they come to see us psychiatrists because of feelings of futility” – Viktor Frankl

“Daft sensational types have no problem thinking of nature as one big theme-park, there expressly to satisfy their every tawdry infantile desire. Their interest in nature’s welfare is insincere and supeficial. Most people’s attitude toward nature (umwelt) is gnostic in complexion. Nature is not to be loved and understood, it’s to be escaped. While we are here on the planet, we might as well have fun at nature’s expense. We’re on our way somewhere better, where happiness is guaranteed. Nature denies us a lot, and makes us suffer. God grants all my wishes and bestows eternal pleasure.
Millions of people have this outlook. It’s the main reason they do what they do, and accounts for a great deal of the irrational nonsense going on in the world. Delicate senses are taxed and sullied by the incessant irrational demand for “more.” In the end one prostitutes themselves to the senses and pays dearly for doing so. One becomes decadent, discontented and compulsively outer-directed.”

“Like spoiled brats we just can’t accept that the ride comes to an end. This is why we aren’t satisfied with one or two versions of any product. There must be hundreds of brands and dozens of flavors and alternatives. We’re never satisfied, but rarely ask why? We never inquire into what sensations are, or that maybe it’s a good thing we’re not in a world of constant sensual edification. What kind of beings would we become if it were otherwise? Are we to take it that we, as humans, simply wish to have pleasure and avoid pain? Or is it more accurate to say that without opposites there can be neither pleasure nor pain?”

Eye-Opening Quotes: HG Wells

The Open Conspiracy (Non-fiction, 1928)

“It is impossible for any clear-headed person to suppose that the ever more destructive stupidities of war can be eliminated from human affairs until some common political control dominates the earth, and unless certain pressures due to the growth of populations, due to the enlarging scope of economic operations, or due to conflicting standards and traditions of life, are disposed of. To avoid the positive evils of war and to attain the new levels of prosperity and power that now come into view, an effective world control, not merely of armed force, but of the production and main movements of staple commodities and the drift and expansion of population is required. It is absurd to dream of peace and world-wide progress without that much control.”

“So, in relation to science—and here the word is being used in its narrower accepted meaning for what is often spoken of as pure science, the search for physical and biological realities, uncomplicated by moral, social, and ‘practical’ considerations—we evoke a conception of the Open Conspiracy as producing groups of socially associated individuals, who engage primarily in the general basic activities of the Conspiracy . . . The contemporary mind realizes the evils of production for profit and of the indiscriminate scrambling of private ownership more fully than ever before, but it has a completer realization and a certain accumulation of experience in the difficulties of organizing that larger ownership we desire. Private ownership may not be altogether evil as a provisional stage, even if it has no more in its favor than the ability to transcend political boundaries.”

***

From Mathew Ehret:

“In 1932, Wells gave an Oxford speech championing a global order run by liberal fascists saying: “I am asking for liberal Fascisti, for enlightened Nazis”. This was not paradoxical when one realizes that the rise of fascism was never a “nationalist” phenomenon as popular history books have asserted for decades but rather was the artificial consequence of a supranational financier-oligarchy from above who wished to use “enforcers” to bend their societies to a higher will.”

“Although the bodies of Wells, Russell and Huxley have long since rotted away, their rotten ideas continue to animate their disciples like Sir Henry Kissinger, George Soros, Klaus Schwab, Bill Gates, Lord Malloch-Brown (whose disturbing celebration of the Coronavirus as a golden opportunity to finally restructure civilization) should concern any thinking citizen. The idea of a “Great Reset” expounded by these modern mouthpieces of history’s bad ideas signals nothing more than a new Dark Age which should turn the stomach of any moral being.”

H.G. Wells’ Dystopic Vision Comes Alive With the Great Reset Agenda — Strategic Culture

Eye-Opening Quotes

I’ve decided to add a new and regular feature to this blog—quotes on social engineering. The first is a doozy, just in case you’re snoozing!

This was lifted from the excellent article in Strategic Culture by Cynthia Chung, From Trotskyism to Radical Positivism: How Albert Wohlstetter Became the Leading Authority for Nuclear Strategy in America

Bertrand Russell

Russell would put it forth most succinctly in his “The Scientific Outlook” (1931):

“The scientific rulers will provide one kind of education for ordinary men and women and another for those who are to become holders of scientific power. Ordinary men and women will be expected to be docile, industrious, punctual, thoughtless and contented. Of these qualities, probably contentment will be considered the most important. In order to produce it, all the researchers of psycho-analysis, behaviorism and biochemistry will be brought into play… all the boys and girls will learn from an early age to be what is called “cooperative” i.e.: to do exactly what every body else is doing. Initiative will be discouraged in these children, and insubordination, without being punished will be scientifically trained out of them.”

“In 1953, Russell would update this creepy piece of work and make it even creepier, writing:

“It may be hoped that in time anybody will be able to persuade anybody of anything if he can catch the patient young and is provided by the State with money and equipment… This subject will make great strides when it is taken up by scientists under a scientific dictatorship. Anaxagoras maintained that snow is black, but no one believed him. The social psychologists of the future will have a number of classes of school children on whom they will try different methods of producing an unshakable conviction that snow is black. Various results will soon be arrived at. First, that the influence of home is obstructive. Second, that not much can be done unless indoctrination begins before the age of ten. Third, that verses set to music and repeatedly intoned are very effective. Fourth, that the opinion that snow is white must be held to show a morbid taste for eccentricity. It is for future scientists to make these maxims precise and discover exactly how much it costs per head to make children believe that snow is black, and how much less it would cost to make them believe it is dark gray.”

In his “The Managerial Revolution,” Burnham echoes the Fabian Society methodology and Russell’s “The Scientific Outlook,” writing:

“Nevertheless, it may still turn out that the new form of economy will be called ‘socialist.’ In those nations – Russia and Germany – which have advanced furthest toward the new [managerial] economy, ‘socialism’ or ‘national socialism’ is the term ordinarily used. The motivation for this terminology is not, naturally, the wish for scientific clarity but just the opposite. The word ‘socialism’ is used for ideological purposes in order to manipulate the favourable mass emotions attached to the historic socialist ideal of a free, classless, and international society and to hide the fact that the managerial economy is in actuality the basis for a new kind of exploiting, class society.”

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