Thursday, August 3, 2017

An Essay About Calypso's Island

Raymond Steding
Instructor: Professor Doten
English 50
December 16, 2013
An Essay About Calypso's Island

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Archibald MacLeish
Calypso's Island, written by Archibald MacLeish, a modernist poet, answers the “Make It New” slogan of Ezra Pound's modernist calling with the art of a Statesman and sophistication of a Librarian of Congress. Calypso's Island a love poem by an acclaimed public figure comes from the mind of one of the world's most eloquent orators.
The content of the poem may be surmised in the three sentences that make up its 33 lines.
In the first sentence, stanzas 1-5, Odysseus tells Calypso that the woman he is speaking of, (Penelope; implied by myth), can't match her god-like qualities. Odysseus then asks the goddess to make him whole and keep him in protection on her island. In the second sentence, stanzas 6-8, Odysseus tells Calypso of the beauty of her island; that it is especially so without the pain of the heart. In the third sentence, stanzas 9-11, Odysseus tells Calypso how her island converts the storms of the corporeal world into forever new, cool, moistness. He becomes startled when he realizes that the woman, that he compares Calypso to, will die from change.
Readers may gain a truer interpretation of Calypso's Island when an association of Odysseus is made with the context of Macleish's life, and then, with the context of the reader's own life. In World War I, MacLeish served as an ambulance driver, not unlike, the psycho-pompous conveyor of souls, Hermes. MacLeish has characteristics that match both Hemes as trickster and Odysseus as the intelligently cunning one. MacLeish served the Office of War Information and became heavily involved with creating propaganda during WWII. MacLeish also maintained friendships with contemporary modernists and was the person ultimately responsible for the release, from prison, of Ezra Pound. His
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soul like Odysseus's and Hermes's wore many hats.
After the war, MacLeish became instrumental in the creation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. His devotion to UNESCO may be likened to being stranded on Ogygia. Some have identified Ogygia with the lost city of Plato's Atlantis—an ideal state.
In the Odyssey, the island of Ogygia is where the nymph Calypso, daughter of Atlas (Atlantis), held Odysseus as her love and kept him from returning to his home in Ithaca. Calypso's Island is a place of the gods, not humans. The island is a refuge where the chaotic forces of the world are brought into harmony with existence. In the poem, we read, “keep me from those dogging dangers-- \ Ships and the wars–in this green, far-off island” (12). And, “Your poplars where the storms are turned to dances” (27). Ogygia is an ideal state and Macleish, as Odysseus, laments subversively throughout the poem. He compares his mortal inferior “other half” to Calypso; an apparent wrongful justification of his devotion to Calypso (his godly ideal) instead of to his earthly family, his poetry, and, his individual life.
On the surface, the poem appears to be of Odysseus, as a trickster, flattering Calypso so she will allow him to leave Ogygia. But, he does not hate Calypso. Odysseus seems to honestly be in praise of her, while at the same time he wishes to return home—to his individual life. The poem is an extended metaphor for the irreconcilable conditions, in Macleish's life--between his collective duty and his individual development.
Psychologically the poem refers to two aspects of the feminine side of Macleish's personality; the side that links him to the greater collective unconscious—the underworld's birthplace of socially transforming ideas and the side that provides personal psychological development. Calypso holds him captive; communicates with him in caves; romantically she seduces him and prevents him from his personal life. The island is his goddess’s; not Odysseus's. Odysseus praises Calypso and asks her to make him immortal and strange. The world of the gods, the archetypes, is strange; not the place of mortals. After years, of devoting life to Calypso, Odysseus recognizes what he has sacrificed. He
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expresses in the last lines of the poem his realization that his feminine side, his connection to personal development, as represented in the poem by his comparison to his mortal wife, will die: “she is a woman with that fault \ of change that will be death in her at last!” (33).
Odysseus professed and acknowledged his respect and devotion to Calypso. At the same time, he recognized his opposing feelings for the love of his other half. A dynamism arose, from his realization, enough to activate the gods on high, Athena and Zeus, to change the world about him. The world changes when Odysseus's situation in life is brought to consciousness. A raft for the newly prepared mind to cross the ocean of uncertainties becomes available for Odysseus. He will travel across the dangerous sea, in spite of his adversary Poseidon, and return home.
Calypso's Island, like the myth, relates to some common, archetypal, psychological condition. Each person has at one time become stuck, stranded in life, without the ability to determine the way out. By recognizing the situation and then coming to terms through acceptance of, perhaps even through honoring, it--by bringing it to consciousness—and then making oneself ready to move on, the gods, that have often been prayed to during this personal struggle, respond in a ways not unlike the “deus ex machina” within Greek drama. Doors open where there were none and external challenges to match the maturity and capacity of the individual arise. In this way, life mysteriously leads us all through an Odyssey toward a higher self.
Modernist works of art typically invoked the participation of the viewer/reader; to become one with their jazz that they should know it. Pablo Picasso, Matisse, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, James, Joyce, Djurna Barnes all produced works through which the interpreter of their works was led to a greater understanding of themselves. Through individual interaction, the beauty hidden in their medium became known.
The subjective interpretation of Calypso's Island I have offered may be valid, or not, but Macleish's art, within the poem, attains its classification of being “modernist.” The subtle rhyming
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pattern of the second line of the stanza, with the first line of the following stanza, the alliteration, repetition from the end of one line to the beginning of the next, similes, metaphors and the allusions within Calypso's Island, as well as, the myth of the archetypal psychological process that the poem is based on, all draw the reader to become one with the poem. Calypso's Island is a song sung by a nymph.
In 1937, in Germany, modernist art was forced underground and classified as “degenerate art.” Djurna Barnes's novel, Nightwood, was published in America that same year. MacLeish as a modernist poet, with political and cultural influence, would certainly have been motivated to confront the fascist subjugation of individuals and the repression of individuality inspired by the modernist's works.

Calypso's Island concerns a problem central to the maturation of the individual. Psychological development is thwarted when the individual gets lured into the collective. The power of identification with the ideals of the gods crushes the only salvation for society--the morality and creativity of the individual. Whether or not MacLeish's personal involvement with the military or UNESCO had an influence on this poem, I do not know. In MacLeish's own words, "A poem should not mean / But be." Whatever, if any, reason behind the writing of Calypso's Island, the poem reveals the importance of myth in the lives of people today.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Tribute to Henry Thoreau on his 200th Birthday

Raymond Steding
Professor Colacurcio
English 166C
June 15, 2015

Benjamin D. Maxham - Henry David Thoreau - Restored.jpgIn “The Bean Field” chapter of his memoir Walden, Henry David Thoreau describes to the reader in prose that oscillates between romanticism and realism his bean farming experiences. “The Bean-Field” does not subordinate the practicality of farming to his relationship and understanding of nature, but rather intermixes the reality of farming with his philosophical considerations of nature to arrive at a synthesis of the two. Although some may conclude that the poetic prose and lofty diction detract from the narrative, Thoreau combines images of realism and romanticism, and uses many tropes and literary devices such as personification, metaphors, mythical symbolism, and illeism to get to a level of meaning beneath the denotation of individual words, and express to the reader a sense of his spiritual affinity with nature. “The Bean-Field” seems to be written as a means for the author to understand what “Heaven knows” he was doing (107) during a time when “he was determined to know beans” (111).
Thoreau romanticizes elements of nature by personifying beans. He says that the beans “were impatient to be hoed,” and “were not easily to be put off” (107). He wonders what his beans will learn of him (107). Further, he says he was “making the yellow soil express its summer thought in bean leaves . . . making the earth say beans instead of grass” (108); They were beans cheerfully returning to their wild and primitive state that I cultivated, and my hoe played the Ranz des Vaches for them” (109). Thoreau, by way of his personification of the earth and the beans, implies that nature is as much a component of raising a bean-field as he is. Additionally he says that his “auxiliaries are the dews and rains” (107). In this way he reveals his connection to the transcendentalist philosophy that all of nature is of the individual and one mind.
The author's use of ancient cultural references is prevalent throughout “The Bean-Field,” and seems to be used by Thoreau to ascribe a sense of numinous significance to otherwise ordinary items. The author first applies such significance to beans when he says the beans “attached [him] to the earth, and so [he] got strength like Antaeus”--a Greek mythological giant that derives his strength from the earth (107). He associates the “the spotted salamander” with “a trace of Egypt and the Nile” (110). Rather than saying the beans gave him gas, the author gives his reason for not eating beans by saying that he is “by nature Pythagorean:” Pythagoras forbade his disciples from eating beans (111). The author ennobles husbandry when he says that “[a]ncient poetry and mythology suggest, at least, that husbandry was once a sacred art” (114). The paragraph in The Bean-Field in which Thoreau includes the most Roman symbolism is one in which he suggests that modern man learn the values of nature from their husbandry instead of “regarding the soil as property, or the means of acquiring property” (114). Here he uses the gods Ceres and King Saturn to imply that farmers had a special honor “they who cultivated [the earth] led a pious and useful life” (114). Thoreau says that the modern farmer “sacrifices not to Ceres [the god of corn and harvests] . . . but to the infernal Plutus [the god of riches]” (114). He speaks of weeds as Trojans and himself as Hector “that towered a whole foot above his crowding comrades--” his beans (111).
A Roman narrative technique that Thoreau employs is illeism—a way to give the text a sense of objectivity. The author does this when he switches from the first person narrator to the third person narrator as he speaks of killing weeds: “disturbing their delicate organizations so ruthlessly, and making such invidious distinctions with his hoe, levelling whole ranks of one species, and sedulously cultivating another. making such unjust distinctions . . . and sedulously cultivating another” (111). The word “his” separates the narrator from reader identification with the one carrying out the diligent but unjust decisions concerning which weeds may live, and which must die.
Thoreau uses a metaphor when he describes the Massachusetts militia practicing a mile and a half away in Concord:
It seemed by the distant hum as if somebody's bees had swarmed, and that the neighbors, according to Virgil's advice, by a faint tintinnabulum upon the most sonorous of their domestic utensils, were endeavoring to call them down into the hive again. And when the sound died quite away, and the hum had ceased, and the most favorable breezes told no tale, I knew that they had got the last drone of them all safely into the Middlesex hive, and that now their minds were bent on the honey with which it was smeared. (110)
The bees represent the militia, and the romantic elements are the tintinnabulum,—a Roman Catholic bell that is on the end of a pole—the reference to Virgil, and the honey, as a metaphor for pride and honor. Even though the metaphors detracts from the realism of his narration, he quickly corrects the imbalance in the next paragraph with the following statement: “I felt proud to know that the liberties of Massachusetts and of our fatherland were in such safe keeping; and as I turned to my hoeing again I was filled with an inexpressible confidence, and pursued my labor cheerfully with a calm trust in the future” (110). The balancing between the author's artistry at describing in poetic prose the militia and the realism of his statement of “As I turned to my hoeing again . . . [I had] . . . trust in the future” exemplifies how the author not only unifies, or synthesizes mundane and disturbing elements of realism with the mystery of nature, but also how the author's style gives him the ability to express his unity with nature to the reader (110).
In addition to the above example of realism, Thoreau includes an entire accounting of his finances, for his bean farming expenses and profits, which adds a visually realistic appearance to the “The Bean-Field:”
In all.................................. $14.72-1/2
My income was (patrem familias vendacem, non emacem esse oportet), from
Nine bushels and twelve quarts of beans sold.. $16.94
Five " large potatoes..................... 2.50
Nine " small.............................. 2.25
Grass........................................... 1.00
Stalks.......................................... 0.75
In all.................................... $23.44
Leaving a pecuniary profit,
as I have elsewhere said, of.............. $8.71-1/2. (112)
The author's inclusion of the phrase “patrem familias vendacem, non emacem esse oportet,” which means “A householder should be one who sells, not one who buys,” is significant (112) because a primary feature of elements of realism in literature is detail—detail helps the narrative be considered real by the reader. Here Thoreau adds directly to such detail a romantic language—a Roman phrase. On a larger scale Thoreau applies this same principle as a matter of style throughout Walden whenever he ascribes romantic qualities to his realistic detailed descriptions of nature.
In a sequence that begins with other farmers passing by his bean-field, stopping to give him advice, Thoreau begins a three paragraph long series of gradual transitions out of conversation with “hard-featured farmers” into poetic verse that culminates in an experience of joy as a sense of oneness with Nature. The sequence begins when, as narrator, Thoreau switches his point of view and refers to himself in the third person: “sometimes the man in the field heard more of travellers’ gossip and comment than was meant for his ear” (108). He objects to the hard-featured farmer’s expression of ‘“Beans so late! peas so late!”’ (108), and thinks to himself: “here were two acres and a half of furrows, and only a hoe for cart and two hands to draw it” (108). With an air of authenticity, he admits that his field was not one of the respected fields found in books on agriculture, but goes on to counter that perspective with a value judgment: “by the way, who measures the value of crop which Nature yields in the still wilder fields unimproved by man?” (109); He chooses to value his apparent layman farming methods not on its agricultural merits but with its function as a part of Nature: “[as a] connecting link between wild and cultivated fields; as some states are civilized . . . [his] field was, though not in a bad sense, a half-cultivated field” (109). He goes on to justify his reason for not using a covering of plaster or leached-ashes as pest control by telling of how a brown-thrasher bird that lands to survey his field, one that has no appetite for beans, chirps atop a tree and prevents predators from entering his bean-field: “It was a cheap source of top dressing in which I had entire faith” he says. In a tone of sincerity tempered by light-hearted rationalization, Thoreau then takes the opportunity to express a oneness with nature through transcendental imagery that begins when he disturbs the ashes of “unchronicled nations:”
When my hoe tinkled against the stones, that music echoed to the woods and the sky, and was accompanied to my labor which yielded an instant and immeasurable crop. It was no longer beans that I hoed, nor I that hoed beans”
The mundane act of hoeing his beans seems to unite him with a historic mystery of “unchronicled nations:” past and present become united with him in Nature.
In the next sentence the text establishes reader identification with the narrator’s separation from his contemporaries: “[I] remembered with as much pity as pride, if I remembered at all, my acquaintances who had gone to the city to attend the oratorios” (109). Pity and pride are two paradoxical emotions that create a psychic polarity out of which the author’s poetic prose arises to carry the reader to sense what the author experiences from bean farming. Thoreau continues to add imagery that includes a night-hawk that soars like a mote in heaven’s eye, the paradox of a torn yet seamless cope, imps of folk-lore and a hawks flight as a simile to waves of the sea. Then dreamily in a reminiscent tone he says:
Or sometimes I watched a pair of hen-hawks circling high in the sky, alternately soaring and descending, approaching, and leaving one another, as if they were the embodiment of my own thoughts. Or I was attracted by the passage of wild pigeons from this wood to that, with a slight quivering winnowing sound and carrier haste; or from under a rotten stump my hoe turned up a sluggish portentous and outlandish spotted salamander, a trace of Egypt and the Nile, yet our contemporary. When I paused to lean on my hoe, these sounds and sights I heard and saw anywhere in the row, a part of the inexhaustible entertainment which the country offers. (110)
The progression, from listening to the advice of hard-featured farmers to the use of poetic prose, filled with romantic imagery to console feelings spurred by thoughts of his “acquaintances,” synthesize through Thoreau’s diction to arrive at joy in an experience of oneness with nature. This is why Thoreau hoes his beans. And this is how Thoreau expresses the meaning through his diction to arrive at a level of understanding beneath the meaning of the words used. It is through multiple modes of expression, sincerity, reader identification, gradual progression, and the use of various tropes that combine and build off one another to form a collective sense of understanding. This is exactly what the author alludes to as being his reason for bean-farming when he says, “some must work in the fields if only for the sake of tropes and expression, to serve a parable-maker one day” (111).

Works Cited

Thoreau, Henry David. Walden, Civil Disobedience, and Other Writings, Third Edition (Norton Critical Editions). Third ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 2007. Print.

---, Walden, Oxford University Press: 1997. Print.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Political Correctness in 1839 or How to Implicate a Whig

Raymond Steding
Professor ---
English ---
May 31, 2016
Image result for Nathanial Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathanial Hawthorne’s “Old Esther Dudley” published in “The United States Magazine and Democratic Review” (Jan. 1839) satirizes the opposition to the then ten-year-old Democratic party. The opening page of the “Review” highlights the latest New York election over the previous one by stating that “[t]he majority by which the Whigs then swept the State has been reduced between five and six thousand. The aggregate Democratic vote has been increased by upwards of forty-two thousand” (Hawthorne 3). In support of Democrats over the Whig Party, and in the style of a Hawthornian romance, “Old Esther Dudley” offers a politically didactic lesson allegorically through tone, satiric imagery, and subtle allusions to associate the Whig Party with Loyalists (Hawthorne 51). Although “Old Esther Dudley” aligns its political argument within the larger context of the “Review,” the story contains elements of a moral purpose which Hawthorne reveals eleven years later in his “Preface to The House of the Seven Gables.”  Therein, he says that “the wrong-doing of one generation lives into the successive ones . . . [and] becomes a pure and uncontrollable mischief” (Hawthorne Preface). And further, that he will be pleased to convince his reader of the folly of those that seek “ill-gotten gold, or real estate, on the heads of an unfortunate posterity” (Hawthorne Preface). Hawthorne’s moral in “Old Esther Dudley” brings about an awareness that political ideologies may change, Loyalists may metamorphosize into Whigs, but unless people stop enriching themselves at the expense of others injustice goes on much the same.
An allegory to uncontrollable mischief that attempts to transcend generations is textualized through Esther’s desire to have her memories of colonialism restored by a return of the colonies to English rule. The English Governor Sir William Howe of the Province-House describes Esther “as being so perfect a representative of the decayed past--of an age gone by, with its manners, opinions, faith and feelings, all fallen into oblivion or scorn--or what had once been a reality, but was now merely a vision of faded magnificence” (Hawthorne 54). Esther as an allegory for decayed colonial ideals represents the past: “a symbol of a departed system embodying a history in her person” (Hawthorne 55). Thus, although the system that is symbolized by Esther is separated by time, the history of it remains in the present through her. The tone of the text conjures up a kind of spooky mischief since the past should not be alive in the present. The narrator states that although her “hope ever seemed to fit around her, still it was memory in disguise” (Hawthorne 54). Esther’s hope depends on her memories of experiences within a life lived from the excesses of English colonialism. According to the political philosopher Thomas Hobbes, “if we want to point to the decay, we use “‘memory.’” Esther’s hope in the return of grand life lived under colonialism--a life of grandeur at the expense and taxation of others--brings the decaying process forward into the future. Her hope is analogous to a desire that brings with it out of the past processes of decay.
The narrator, in keeping with the theme of decaying processes entering into new forms, recites a story of old Esther’s “most frequent and favored guests . . . the children of the town” (Hawthorne 55). He states: “[b]y bribes of gingerbread of her [Esther’s] own making, stamped with a royal crown, she tempted their sunny sportiveness beneath the gloomy portal of the gloomy Province-House . . . [she would tell them] her stories of a dead world” (Hawthorne 55). The word portal means gateway or entrance, and it is a gloomy entranceway to the gloomy seat of English colonial power at the end of the revolutionary war. As a motif that appears five times within the story, the portal acts as a location where the activities that take place there symbolize the processes of the decaying past as those processes make their way into the future. It is here in the portal where Esther gives the children tasty treats while she entertains them with stories of her idealized past. Contrary to the haunting scenario of the text, Esther’s character never appears malevolent. When the child returns home, the mother says “to the little boy. ‘And did you really see [Governor Belcher] at the Province-House?’ ‘Oh yes, dear mother! Yes!’ the half dreaming child would answer” (Hawthorne 56). The text continues: innocently enough, “without affrighting her little guests, she [Esther] led them by the hand into the chambers of her own desolate heart, and made childhood’s fancy discern the ghost that haunted there” (Hawthorne 56). The child-like tone of the text contrasts with the narrator’s stark conclusions to imply that agents (such as Esther) of the transference of idolization of wealth that pass from one generation to the next are unconscious and therefore innocent of the associated human costs.
The difficulty of writing a story that attempts to persuade a reader of a moral purpose is that it must confront the dark side of the reader’s personality enough for them to see right from wrong without offending them. Since morality can only exist within the individual constituents of a political party, if the text is to make a moral argument against the desire for excessive wealth, then it must confront the selfish desire for wealth which nearly every reader has. The narrator states that “[i]t took no small nerve [on the part of the new authorities] to look her [Esther] in the face” (Hawthorne 54). The implication of the text is that in making a political argument to its readers, the “new authorities” equate with the Republican-Democrats of 1776 but at the same time less directly to its readers. It will take no small nerve on their parts to look at the bloody greed behind the excesses of colonialism that Esther innocently idealizes, as being alive and well in themselves, and it will take no small nerve to see that projecting an excessive desire for wealth on to political opponents does anything more than make one self-righteous. Appropriately enough, a mirror, a device used to look at oneself, allows colonialists to appear in “the inner world of the mirror with shadows of old life” (Hawthorne 54). The mirror brings these old attitudes held by the colonialists into the Province House, which is now under the rule of new authorities. Presumably the shadows of old life will not assault the reader like the shadow of the Province-House that “flings its shadow on the loiterer in its courtyard” (Hawthorne 51), but instead allow the reader to comfortably project their greediness onto their political opponents and yet cause them enough awareness to question whether or not their political choices are being driven by desires for excess wealth.
Although Hawthorne provides a moral, he does not want “to impale the story (House of the Seven Gables) with its moral, as with an iron rod” (Hawthorne Preface). And, within “Old Esther Dudley” he employs various techniques within in his style of romance to teach a subtle moral lesson to his reader. The way that the romance novel comes under the romantic definition according to the author “lies in the attempt to connect a by-gone time with the very present that is flitting away from us. It is a legend, prolonging itself, from an epoch now gray in the distance, down into our own broad day-light.” He goes on to say that “the reader, according to his pleasure, may either disregard, or allow it [the stories legendary mist] to float almost imperceptibly about the characters and events for the sake of a picturesque effect” (Hawthorne Preface). One such example of the author’s romantic style follows:
And, punctually as the clock of the Old South told twelve, came the shadows of . . . all the grandees of a bygone generation, gliding beneath the portal into the well-known mansion, where Esther mingled with them as if she likewise were a shade. Without vouching for the truth of such traditions, it is certain that Mistress Dudley sometimes assembled a few of the staunch, though crest-fallen old tories, who had lingered in the rebel town during those days of wrath and tribulation. (101)
The above passage indicates a time of communion between a ghostly bygone generation, or between crest-fallen old tories that are real. The truth of the matter is not as important to the text as is the effect of the picturesque upon the reader’s perception of what happens to those that believe in a doomed political system.
Hawthorne’s narrator continues to describe a scene in the author’s style of romance writing that parallels a strikingly similar historical scene in 1766 that the biographer Harlow Unger explains. A comparison between Unger’s and Hawthorne’s depiction highlights the way the author’s style helps him reveal his lesson to his reader despite what others may consider historical fact. The historical record from “those days of wrath and tribulation” by Unger documents a time when John Hancock wins the repeal of the Stamp Act, and Royal Governor Bernard celebrates, believing that the repeal signified peace between England and the colonies: “At Province House, the governor’s mansion on Marlborough Street, Governor Benard celebrated Repeal Day with his Council by drinking His Majesty’s health, before stepping out courageously to mingle with the rest of Boston” (Unger 107-8). In contrast to such an honorable event, the romance style of Hawthorne’s narrator paints the Loyalist’s gathering in “Old Esther Dudley” as activities of treasonous has-beens:
Out of a cobwebbed bottle, containing liquor that a Royal Governor might have smacked his lips over, they quaffed healths to the King, and babbled treason to the Republic, feeling as if the protecting shadow of the throne were still flung  around them. But, draining the last drops of their liquor, they stole timorously homeward, and answered not again, if the rude mob reviled them in the street. (Hawthorne 55)
Whether or not Hawthorne relied on the same source material as Unger, the differences in the two passages exemplify the extent to which Hawthorne’s style allowed his story to emphasize the temporality and impotence of those who idealize systems of governance.
Other formal elements of Hawthorne’s style such as the use of overstatement suggests absolute certainty to such a degree that it makes the pronouncements within the text imply their opposite. When Esther routinely watches out with hopes of seeing the return of a British ship, “the passengers in the street” would yell out to her, “‘When the golden Indian on the Province-House shall shoot his arrow, and when the cock on the Old South spire shall crow, then look for a Royal Governor again!’” (Hawthorne 57). The absurdity of an image such as a golden Indian or a metal rooster coming to life stands humorously juxtaposed to Esther’s undying faith. The irony of the statement is that the text suggests that an equivalent to a Royal Governor returns. When the narrator says that John Hancock, a New England merchant, trod [his foot] upon humbled royalty, as he ascended the steps of the Province-House, the people’s chosen Governor of Massachusetts,” a continuity in the sense of wealth inherited from the word “merchant” combines with a sense of power from the phrase “trod upon humbled royalty.” Thus, the text gives the impression that both wealth and power ascend under the rule of Hancock. The image stands in contrast with the subtlety of the last phrase “the people’s chosen Governor of Massachusetts” (Hawthorne 57). So it is with a touch of sarcasm, the text implies that both wealth and power begins to rule again.
The text makes other parallels between Hancock and Royalty. When Esther collapses upon the realization that Hancock is a traitor to the King, Hancock says to her, “Your life has been prolonged until the world has changed around you” (Hawthorne 58). Since Esther “is “a symbol of a departed system embodying a history in her person” (Hawthorne 55), and her “life has been prolonged until the world has changed around [her],” is it not possible that John Hancock will replace King George’s rule and continue similar practices under a new political system? The text makes the allusion that Hancock may become a king when the narration by General Howe says, “King George’s head on these golden guineas is sterling yet, and will continue so, I warrant you, even should the rebels crown John Hancock their king” (Hawthorne 53). The narrator’s statement of Howe suggests two meanings: an actual meaning that the guineas will retain their intrinsic value as gold despite a change in political systems, and an alluded to meaning that John Hancock as Governor will honor money like King George. A detailed description of what the historical John Hancock idealized comes from the opening pages of John Hancock: Merchant King and American Patriot by Harlow Giles Unger: “Hancock loved wealth. He reveled in it. He adorned all the foppish trappings it could buy: the fashionable wigs, frilled shirts, silk and velvet jackets and breeches” (Unger 1). The depiction of Hancock by Unger reveals that he idealized the parts of the English culture as much as any Loyalist.
The text further implicates Hancock as a Loyalist sympathizer when he stands in the portal of the Province-House with Esther, just before she collapses in death, and says to his entourage “let us reverence, for the last time, the stately and gorgeous prejudices of the tottering past!” The words, reverence, stately and gorgeous, have a tone of honorable admiration for what Hancock describes as prejudices --harmful actions--of a tottering past--a political system in decline. Hancock’s words to his men imply that the “stern republicans” honored the excesses of wealth as much as the Loyalists and the problem is not the desire for wealth but the decline of their system. The text's ironic portrayal of Hancock implies the authors moral. The imagery when Esther collapses between the pillars of the Province House portal and the key to falls from her hands suggests that Hancock replaces her function. They stand in the gloomy portal where decaying processes pass from one generation to the next, and it is there that Esther cries out her final plea “God save the King!” It is not difficult to imagine that readers would make the connection between King George and the Merchant King, John Hancock.  Further, despite Hancock’s proclamation of “‘We are no longer children of the past!,’” he precedes his statement with “‘We will follow her [Esther] reverently to the tomb of her ancestors; and then, my fellow-citizens, onward--onward!’” (Hawthorne 59). Reverence for Esther implies reverence for the attitudes that she held for the English colonialists. The Hawthornian humor in Hancock’s statement “We are no longer children of the past” is that it is an ironic statement. The new rulers of America shall continue blind to their self-serving attitudes in the same historical way as the colonialists unless they become conscious of the greed that drives them onward.
A satire of the “stern republicans” (Hawthorne 55) who unknowingly carry forward under a new guise the same idealization of wealth as the English colonialists presents the readers of the US Magazine and Democratic Review with a humorous depiction of the founders of “America’s first political party, the Whigs” (Unger 87). The Whigs of 1768 became Republican-Democrats after the revolutionary war. The text connects Hancock to “stern republicans” through an unsaid but well-known fact that Hancock was a Whig. Thus, the text implies through understatement that the opponents of the Democratic Party of 1839 have the same drive for excessive wealth as the American Whigs of the 1760s had. The text suggests that the decaying processes brought forward through old Esther have continued through John Hancock into the-the United States political system and continue to exist within the aspirations of the Whig party of 1839.
Old Esther Dudley” satirizes the Whig party of 1839 through Hawthorne’s form of romance story-telling which pulls the reader into political dialogue with the text.  By taking the liberty of naming John Hancock as a republican rather than as an American Whig the narration allows the reader to associate Hancock to the Democratic Party’s opposition. Through the subtlety of the author’s romance, and through literary features such irony, tone, overstatement and understatement, the text gently confronts the desire for wealth within individuals to help them question whether or not their political party of choice will bring the change they desire. “Old Esther Dudley” is not simply a political satire but a lesson for all that support political parties to look into a mirror to see if their hope resides in the idealization of excess rather than in a political system.

Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "Old Esther Dudley." Making of America: The United States
Magazine and Democratic Review: 1839 (Vol. 5-6). Web. 29 May 2016.
--.”Preface to The House of the Seven Gables.” University of Southern Florida. Web. 29 May 2016.
Unger, Harlow Giles. John Hancock: Merchant King and American Patriot. New York:
John Wiley & Sons, 2000. Print

Monday, May 22, 2017

Decentralized Capital Flow

The delay in completing this essay is due to my vacation. I'll pick it back up when I return to CA.
This essay will be my first attempt at critical theory taken from Marxist criticism, Kenneth Burke, and Jean Baudrillard and applied to the flow of capital from central banks into decentralized crypto-currency. I intend to learn through analysis what the exchange of value and trust means especially when trust becomes an integral part of the transaction (a computer process rather than a legal consequence). Concepts for exploration will include corporate, political, and governmental migration which must naturally follow the decentralized flow of capital. The conclusion will question what the transition of the world into a global community on a level playing field of exchange might mean.

Just a note from a FB post. It reminds me of the religious arguments I witnessed between Chris Brown and Nan Gerlinger at Jenny's parent's place. Nan was more rational than Chris but his argument caused a lightning bolt to strike the garage. I decided that the truth with a capital T can't be known. But, the transmission of information, the ways that people come to believe that I can study and influence. So, that is what I do. I've seen the awareness of my ability to program computers come upon me like a demon, like a musician that imagines sounds and then realizes they can play an instrument to recreate and follow where the sounds lead. Then I met thousands of these musicians of open source, the best of them, the founders of Linux and the inventors of the software that created the Internet and put the videos that I took of them onto the Internet. I watched the internet grow from the inside and witnessed the changes on society and I saw what governments and politicians have done by comparison. They are useless and a waste of time. Mostly they are destructive and degrading and puppets of a far more sinister group of decadent individuals. And, now the same as I have seen the influences of open source software on our lives, I see the transformation of trust and value from governments and the evil influences behind them to an open source base of decentralized systems more powerful than governments or the power to influence through media. Where capital flows governments, corporations and society follow. This time it is a global society. A society without borders, oligarchs, militaries and human governments.

Note 2:  It is nonsense to think about Russians under the bed when you have the deep state being recognized as real. What the hell is a deep state doing existing in a democracy? Did you even think about what is being said today in politics? Nothing works like you think it does when you believe in political parties. That stuff is all last millennium. It's the same with National budgets. Once Clinton did away with Glass-Stegall the way that the US financial system works changed. The National budget is a fiction because central banks coordinate the exchange in value function through derivatives based on debt. Dollar based budgets are fictions. This kind of thing is possible with simulations of which the dollar is very much a simulation. Nothing freaking works the way you guys think about things in these posts. The world is very complicated. I used to think that government could be replaced by computer software. It already has but by bankster and deep state software. It needs to be replaced by open source software bitchez.

Note 3: This is an interesting read on cryptocurrencies by the FEDs stock manipulation participant but she is so far behind the times on what she talks about when she gets to crypto currencies and quantum computers that what she says is not valid. A number of crypto currencies are already quantum computing resistant and crypto currencies are no longer currencies--that's the big one that she is missing. Capital flowed into an entirely new abstraction where the currency value of a crypto currency is one of an infinite number attributes.


Note 4: Objective Ethics In 15 Minutes | Universally Preferable Behavi...
Nice, I'll check out the free stuff. There must be gray areas like within tribes where it 
is universally accepted behavior that each tribe is expected to commit violence against the other tribe. Another, where people accept theft through taxes so that social systems don't collapse and so on. So, in collective situations rather than individual situations, exceptions seem to exist. As Jung says, it is only the individual that has the capacity for morality. And, in the examples that you state this is so. The gray areas within the individual are areas of cognitive dissonance and concerning the big 4 of murder, rape, assault, and theft the gray areas are special situations that occur under duress in which case it may be possible for a person to commit the act and the act be judged neither moral or immoral in light of the situation. In other words, the morality of the act is absolved by the situation. Therefore the act exists but the morality of the act is transcended by the situation into the realm of the abstract; the classic example of whether or not a soldier can be held morally responsible for an unjust murder.

Bitcoin could go to a million. The billions being created out of thin air by central banks every month has to go somewhere and now it is flowing into crypto currencies, Everything is changing; even the domain name services system is being circumvented. You can go to a website now by putting in its crypto currency address. I love it. I rode the wave of the internet build out and now this. I posted earlier about the Startup Societies Foundation that is like an enthusiast group of like minded individuals that are getting together to create localized systems of governance. Crypto is bigger than the internet because it has capital attached to hybrid forms of contracts and software functionality all guaranteed by unique database entries. It was the ability for humans to create a unique entity that allows everything else to unfold from it that created this revolution. Blockchain entries are the monad, the true simulacrum from which all things emanate and return to. It is an attribute of God given over to the will of people from around the world. Blockchain tech will make a blind person see, a deaf person hear, and a lame man run. It is the second coming of the Holy Spirit made manifest. And, atop the mountains, and through the valleys, in the rivers, and in the oceans a sound so beautiful was heard that the voices of the hearers' contained new meaning: new knowledge of the unity of all things; an implicit part of each action. And lo, in the thousand years to come I saw a light shine into the darkness of the past; of how far we had come. And so on. Go Bitcoin.

They (cryptos) are not currency in the old sense. They are hybrid forms of capital. Since they carry executable software code they are a kind of infinite capital that is rapidly transforming the social. They are a pure simulacrum since they are unique elements. What they bring with them are the infinite possibilities of a virtual truth. "The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth--it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true".--Jean Baudrillard. Cryptocurrencies represent the first time in human history when people could create a unique item. Crypto is the creation of something out of nothing given over to the will of humans. Crypto is not like gold or money but more like the Holy Spirit made manifest. The change that they will unleash into the social is complicated. The decentralization of wealth is but one of many more surprises to come. Yes, what I've written is strange but open source software is strange in that something moved people to realize that they had to code even if it was without pay until the internet and Linux flourished. The mission imagined in the minds of those diligent and undying efforts was to democratize information. Now it is with crypto to democratize through decentralization of existing social and monetary systems. And, hence came the monad from which every creature and plant of the field formed--the indivisible atom. This came unto man for whatever reason might be dreamed that a new age of understanding should spread through his numbers. Go crypto go whatever you may be.

I liked McAfee’s piece. I likewise believe this to be the most important event in history. Once you have a point like in mathematics the rest becomes possible. An entry on a cryptographic blockchain ledger is such a point. And, infinite possibilities may be attached to it. The ledger entry is a trustless reference. As a paradigm changing element it has the component of a point of reference: a referent to humans symbol producing system. And, it is a point that did not exist before.

The fact that we're even close to doge should excite you. The fact that a meme coin has a 188m market cap after 3 years of being on the market, and we nearly touched their ath market cap after two days should excite you. Then consider that ZRX represents a useful product that might be used by the largest up and coming d apps and exchanges. consider that the tokens are of limited supply, and crypto is becoming a more and more valuable asset as time goes on. Ethereum is becoming huge, so many tokens are being made every day on the eth net. Sure the market is due for a bit of consolidation, and people will soon stop buying into shit tier ico's, but there will still be hundreds of eth based tokens, and a need to trade them for years to come. The market will favor the coins that make a name for themselves, and coins that have roots in the industry. I think 0x is on its way there. What happens when they perfect the protocol? Whats next for 0x? ZRX will be a part of that too, since their operating funds are entangled :wink: I find it funny that I just now realized that a bunch of 0x team members are in this chat. hey yall. Thanks for working hard. I believe in your vision! --Maximillian

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Truth Behind Today's Cognitive Dissonance

As matters of perspective, relativity, relationships, and those others responsible for my feelings of cognitive dissonance enter into the conversation of this essay. I attempt to establish an understanding of how the interpretation of media may not be taken so seriously that it triggers an emotional response which in turn shuts down dialogue. I argue that a solution, at least in part, to the problem of cognitive dissonance, may be found through the assignment of a less significant value on symbolicity that references things further away from first-hand experience. Aristotle’s views on ethics and Kenneth Burke's key terms, consubstantiality, and terministic screens provide the basis for my argument. Carl Gustav Jung’s statements on psychological conditions during the height of World War II provide a cautionary note for reference. Censorshippropaganda, and freedom of the press are all parts of this essay’s explication of how media establishes particular viewpoints valued as collective opinions rather than facts. The exigency for resolving existing tensions is due to an acceleration of collective acts of violence and claims that instances of a de facto censorship—the silencing of contrary views by Google’s search engine and its role in advertising revenues. If communications are shut down between those holding different opinions then not only will the conversation be silenced but also the possibility of the resolution of conflict. Indeed, if the terms of our terministic screens--the lenses through which we view reality--become unstable, then where does that leave our personal relationship to one another; the relationships wherein our soundness of mind and sense of belonging reside?

How predisposed should we be of facts when they come from media possibly no more than hearsay? According to Professor John Duffy in his essay “The Good Writer: Virtue Ethics and the Teaching of Writing,” “we inhabit a rhetorical climate in which there is no widely shared agreement as to the nature of fact, or what counts as evidence, or how to interpret such evidence as may be presented” (242). Duffy takes an ethical stance on why to teach writing as an exercise in ethics and states that  “when we write [and converse] we define ourselves ethically” (230). But to thoroughly examine the principles of communication over the Internet, and within the current social environment, let us first gain a general understanding the Burkean terms "Identity," "Consubstantiality," and "Terministic Screens." And then, let's analyze a conversation between two persons at the heart of the matter of the "Fake News" controversy. By doing so the state of our symbolic system that interprets our world will become apparent and give us a better perspective from which to make ethical choices.

The fake news controversy in media questions what the truth is and in that respect touches the very base of our symbolic system of understanding the world. If something is not true, then it will not be a valid term in the terministic screens through which we view the world; the world that we interpret through terms as reality. The discussion between Chris Martenson and Melissa Zimdars is an excellent opportunity to introduce Kenneth Burke’s concepts because Chris and Melissa (I’m going to use their first names to bring them closer together as people who share common values) question and analyze what exactly the term fake news means. The common values, as well as the individual values that Chris and Melissa have, may be explained according to Burke as consubstantial--they are two distinct individuals that share a set of common values. Chris and Melissa are educators, and as such, they have students, Melissa has students in academia and Chris has students on his website. Both have identities that must remain faithful to their peers. So their identities share a lot in substance. They also do not share a lot in common because of things they simply have not thought about, and they have their particular political biases as well as all the differences unique individuals have. In light of Burkean philosophy, they both have their individual terministic screens through which they interpret the world.

I introduce the ideas of Kenneth Burke, psychologist and literary theorist of the mid-20th century, to help us understand this particular interview and what is taking place within it. Burke describes "terministic screens" when he says, "the nature of our terms affect the nature of our observations, in the sense that the terms direct the attention to one field rather than to another . . . In brief, much that we take as observations about reality may be but the spinning out of possibilities implicit in our particular choice of terms" (46). The words that we use for thought processes bring with them their potentialities as a lens or tool through which to see. Each term in itself blocks out possibilities while allowing other symbols to come through and become part of the mix.
Burke enters into his discussion of terministic screens  as follows:
It is my claim that the injunctino, 'Believe, that you may understand,' has a fundamental application to the purely secular problem of terministic screens. The 'logological,' or 'terministic' counterpart of 'Believe' in the formula would be: Pick some particular nomenclature, some one terministic screen, And for 'That you may understand,' the counterpart would be: That you may proceed to track down the kinds of observation implicit in the terminology you have chosen, whether your choice of terms was deliberate or spontaneous. (47)
So this is what we will try to discover in the interview about both our host, Chris, and his guest, Mellisa. What terministic screens are they using to "track down the kinds of observation implicit in their terminology"? What words or terms are they using as research tools and or filters to view things uniquely. Both Chris and Melissa use their terministic screens to filter out the truth that they choose to guide them, and I would go so far as to say that they use their terministic screens to filter the facts that help to identify them.

The following is taken verbatim from Chris Martenson's website as the introduction information to the soundtrack of the interview:
In the aftermath of the 2016 US Presidential election, 'fake news' was blamed as a major reason for Donald Trump's upset victory over Hillary Clinton. A wide range of players, from Russian propagandists to paid partisan puppeteers, were accused of fabricating stories which were then widely circulated via social media to influence the hearts and minds of voters. A national debate then raged -- and still does -- about whether 'fake news' truly exists and, if so, should it be tolerated. And, immediately after the election, a number of major media outlets, including Google and Facebook, announced planned steps to block 'suspect' content sources on their platforms. Amidst this tumult, a college professor compiled an aggregated list of 'False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical 'News' Sources', which quickly became known as the 'fake news list.' The mainstream media immediately latched on to this list of culprits, and circulated it heavily across the headlines of major outlets like CNN, The Washington Post, Fox News, The Boston Globe, New York Magazine, USA Today, Business Insider and The Dallas Morning News (Full disclosure: this [Chris's] website,, was initially included on the list. We've learned it has since been removed.) So many questions have been raised by this list. Is naming these sources a public service? Or it is censorship? What criteria are used to declare content 'fake'? Who comes up with those criteria, and who is making the decisions? What are their qualifications? Is it the media's job to 'protect' the public from information? Or is it the reader's responsibility to judge for themselves what is and isn't a trustworthy source? To explore answers to these -- and many more -- questions, on this week's podcast we discuss the 'fake news list' with its creator, Dr. Melissa Zimdars, assistant professor of communications at Merrimack College. Chris' line of inquiry is brutally direct. And many of Dr. Zimdars' answers are more nuanced then many of her critics will expect. Wherever you fall on this topic, you'll find this an exceptionally open, frank debate of the key issues at stake on the public's right to information in the modern age.
 Please note that the transcript is available below the video (if you scroll down) at this link to

After listening to the interview or reading the transcript, if we were to analyze these two individuals separately, in Burkean terms, starting with Chris, we might say that Chris is an individual with a terministic screen that brings things to him with which he identifies. For instance, his MBA from Cornell University and his PhD. in pathology from Duke University provides him with a terministic screen that enables him to analyze the way that oil companies promote energy independence across newly established fake websites that look legit but in fact are publicity fronts. The way he makes his conclusion through the way many articles are exactly the same from supposedly independent journalists. As he says it “is [his] business is to be very deep into the information system on the web and understand what’s going on.”  What he identifies with then are source materials which he can read and authenticate that the claims made on a website are authentic and not taken out of context. Chris lists the rules for posting legitimate articles on his website at  Chris's identity is dependent on factual information. If his facts are overly pretentious or untrue, his website will fail. depends not only on Chris's personality but on his integrity which in turn has given rise to the membership that respects his ideas enough to pay for them.

Chris's consubstantiality with his guest Melissa during the interview is in the way that they share the same concerns about the truthfulness of information but have different terministic screens to help them identify fake news sites. Whereas Chris's identity finds a relationship with sources found through the terministic screen such as one might expect of a scientist, Melissa's terministic screen as a professional academic who wants to provide a way in which her students might obtain truthful information expresses itself in part through a list to locate credible sources. Her list is entitled "False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical 'News' Sources.

The effect of Melissa's list on the collective symbol system revealed itself when she became a target of slander; a collective note of discord made itself known. But, through Chris and Melissa's consubstantiality, during the interview, as two individuals with a shared interest in fact-based websites, the discord lessened. The essence of the interview echoed her website's mission statement: "to empower people to find reliable information online." The dialogue between Chris and Melissa as two intelligent individuals provided the audience with a sense of rationality rather than what Internet media had implied by suspecting that Melissa's list would be used by governmental or corporate interests to censor all other sites. In a way, the interview revealed truth where before massive speculation existed. Nonetheless, the discord produced within our collective symbolic system something previously not known, not well understood and something that might require censorship to keep the symbolic from falling apart. In other words, Melissa's list revealed to us just how fragile our sense of stability is.

Chris's consubstantial participation brought up the issue of censorship. The term censorship is one of those words that Chris was not sure if he understood in common with Melissa. One ambiguity arose over the previously mentioned fact when Chris and Melissa's terministic screens that function to enforce their identities clashed over the fact that Chris found that phony petroleum sites might be listed as legitimate on Melissa’s site. The issue is that if Melissa and her associates lacked the technical knowledge to expose sites created as propaganda by big oil then how could her list filter out misleading websites? The requirement that a list such as Melissa’s must have qualified people across the spectrum of all expertises was only implied, but Melissa agreed that in contemporary journalism “there is definitely a lot that needs to change and become more transparent in how we relay information to the public.” Most importantly, together they decided that censorship was not the right choice for providing truthful information on the Internet. And further, Melissa said that she would work with any site and modify her list accordingly. To her credit, she also noted that she was skeptical of her authority to create her list and because of that she develops the list via her collaborative group website The interview thus removed any indication whatsoever that her website and her list is intended for censorship.

According to John Duffy "'To practice the virtues of reasoning well' in Aristotelian ethics is to react appropriately to a given situation” ( 234). In the interview both Chris and Melissa listened well, judged accordingly and made accommodations toward the most reasonable course of action. To me, their conversation is the substance of truth. It is that prime first-hand experience of the intermeshing of terministic screens to come to a higher realization. They have "proceed[ed] to track down the kinds of observations implicit in the terminology [they] have chosen, " and both became identified with a better version of their individual terministic screens. After the interview, I believe Melissa's terms have become more malleable, and Chris's opinion of Melissa seems to be one of admiration rather than resentment. By listening to their conversation we are left with an enlightening conversation between two very bright and conscientious speakers that let us understand that "Fake News" is not a symbol that connotes an ideology but rather a term that may be changed based on conditions. The dialogue during the interview, independent of what we make of it, is the kind of first-hand experience that we can trust.

By taking a perspective based on the insight that symbols further away than our personal dialogues and experiences are less stable, we may see that the terministic screens of millions of viewers of some of the sites on her list experienced cognitive dissonance over not only the threat of some of their favorite sites disappearing but also the fear of a possible violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of the press. The larger issue of freedom of the press is still at stake, and millions of emotionally charged people discuss it. Their threatened identities share an attribute of consubstantiality with others that they never before could have. The term "Fake News" in effect establishes cognitive dissonance, the uncertainty of truth, the shaking of a nation presumably governed by the Constitution, and oddly, "Fake News" in some cases establishes shared concerns about the First Amendment with those that hold opposite socio-political views. What I am attempting to persuade my reader to see is that the truthfulness found in first-hand human relations is that which resonates most meaningfully with our symbol producing system. And, that is something that brings us back to Kenneth Burke.

Burke expands on the symbolic representation of our reality through terministic screens:
And however important to us is the tiny sliver of reality each of us has experienced firsthand, the whole overall 'picture' is but a construct of our symbol systems. To meditate on this fact until one sees its full implications is much like peering over the edge of things into an ultimate abyss. And doubtless, that's one reason why, though man is typically the symbol-using animal, he clings to a kind of naive verbal realism that refuses to let him realize the full extent of the role played by symbolicity in his notions of reality. (48)
The "role played by symbolicity in [our] notions of reality" is where I think many people go astray. They allow their identification to become meshed with their terministic screens to the point of losing sight of who and what they are. They become angered over fake news sites when not only do they not know what "Fake News" sites are, but they aren't even aware that the term is something that is dynamic. It is a phrase that is open to reason and dialogue and can change. Publicity through media made Melissa's list to guide students into something of a national sensation by bringing it into the symbol producing systems of the entire world where its meaning became embellished by each person that read or heard about it. And so it is with political opinions that are as far or farther from firsthand experience, somewhere lost in the realm of symbolicity, manipulated, propagandized and turned into a performance. Burke commented on such a matter by saying, "[t]o mistake this vast tangle of ideas for immediate experience is much more fallacious than to accept a dream as an immediate experience. For a dream really is an immediate experience, but the information that we receive about today's events throughout the world most decidedly is not" (48).

The "Fake News" issue is but one of many instances that now force us to question the terms that make up our terministic screens; terms that compete for recognition and conflict with our perception of reality; terms that now give us cognitive dissonance. Another instance comes from a research paper out of Princeton University that suggests that the United States may, to put in Baudrillardian terms, be a simulation of democracy that serves an oligarchy. The Princeton study “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” concludes:
analyses suggest that majorities of the American public have little influence over the policies our government adopts . . . Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance . . . But [they] believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened. (Gilens 577)
We have no further to look to agree with the Princeton assessment than to President Trump's foreign policy as compared with President Obama's and President Bush's: three different presidents and the same policy.

Another particularly disturbing development by the U.S. Government in regards to what the terms of our symbolic systems may mean comes from the 2013 and 2017 NDAA enactments. The 2013 NDAA, although not stating directly that the Government will use propaganda to persuade U.S. citizens, included the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, which states:
SEC. 501. (a) The Secretary and the Broadcasting
9 Board of Governors are authorized to use funds appro-
10 priated or otherwise made available for public diplomacy
11 information programs to provide for the preparation, dis-
12 semination, and use of information intended for foreign
13 audiences abroad about the United States, its people, and
14 its policies, through press, publications, radio, motion pic-
15 tures, the Internet, and other information media, includ-
16 ing social media, and through information centers, in-
17 structors, and other direct or indirect means of commu-
18 nication. . 
In an article by John Hudson on you'll find an explanation of what this means. According to the website the act allows for the Board of Governors to broadcast programs like "Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks" within the U.S. And, according to, "press freedom advocates are raising alarm over a little-known bill rolled into the [2017] NDAA, which will create a national anti-propaganda center. Under the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, the State Department will actively work to 'recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.'" The key terms in the quote, "counter" and "non-state propaganda" in conjunction with the wording of the 2013 NDAA shows a progression towards government-produced media as a form of persuasion to promote whatever is meant by the phrase "national security interests." What is not mentioned is the word Internet, but the progression from broadcasts like Voice of America to countering non-state propaganda implies in the least that propaganda over the Internet to promote "national security interests" is more likely than not. Even the possibility of "Fake News" information produced by the most powerful nation in the world shakes our sense of what might be considered true.

The danger from the lack of authenticity of news, the threat of government propaganda or the fear of a shadow oligarchy comes not so much from any one of these instances but from the way that people tend toward collectivism during times of uncertainty. According to Griffin, "[l]ogically speaking, to keep decreased dissonance in our lives, we avoid information that may increase dissonance. We prefer things that are our beliefs, such as opinions, literature, and people. By taking care to ‘stick with our kind,' we can maintain the relative comfort of the status quo" (211). And, quite naturally, people often join forces to fight a common enemy. But, the problem resides in the breakdown of meaning within the symbol producing system of each of us. Since the enemy comes from within, collectivism enhances the aspect of terministic screens of which Burke says:
During a national election, the situation places great stress upon a division between the citizens. But often such divisiveness (or discontinuity) can be healed when the warring factions join in a common cause against an alien enemy (the division elsewhere thus serving to reestablish the principle of continuity at home). It should be apparent how either situation sets up the conditions for its particular kind of scapegoat, as a device that unifies all those who share a common enemy. (51)
Not only did the U.S. have a contentious election and now, six months later, we hear talk of impeachment, some are beginning to see the rush toward collectivism as well as the use of social media to drown out the voices of individuals who represent the only source of morality.

Carl Jung notes in Two Essays On Analytical Psychology, first published in German, (1943 and 1945) what takes place psychologically during such times when freedom of the individual is restricted: “This disregard for individuality obviously means the suffocation of the single individual, as a consequence of which the element of differentiation is obliterated from the community. The element of differentiation is the individual” (149-50). One such example of differentiation is the dialogue that takes place via two individual's terministic screens that in turn raises ambiguities which then become differentiated. He continues on to say that "[i]t is a notorious fact that the morality of society as a whole is in inverse ratio to its size; for the greater the aggregation of individuals, the more the individual factors are blotted out, and with them morality, which rests entirely on the moral sense of the individual and the freedom necessary for this . . . . Without freedom, there can be no morality" (150-51). Despite the apparent influence of Nazi Germany on Jung's comments, his emphasis on morality and the location of morality within the individual alludes to an associated value between morality and the first-hand experiences of the individual: relationships between proximity to the real and morality.

The truth behind today's cognitive dissonance is the recognition of the instability of our psychological, symbolic system of references. The basis for which we believe things to be, the basis for our sense of reality, and the basis for morality as presented above call for a more personal way of thinking about things. According to Duffy the "moral ambiguities, as we know, are often the impetus for rhetorical action, and we need rhetoric most when we can discern no rules or certain paths to follow" (240). By placing a relative value on terms based on their distance outside the scope of first-hand, personal experience we effectively build terministic screens made up of terms close to the reality in which we live and share. Through the rhetoric of the voices of individuals, friends, family members, associates at work and in college the inter-meshing of terministic screens offers the possibility of reestablishing the morality that the current move toward collectivism attempts to erase. The ethos of how to live and act will not be left to the law but instead, rely on the underlying ethos of a symbolic system built on the health of the human condition. As individuals with direct first-hand experiences, working with one another to the benefit of each other rather than through abstract and symbolically distant ideals, we can together resolve the problem of cognitive dissonance.

Works Cited

Burke, Kenneth. “Terministic Screens.” Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature, and Method. University of California Press, 1966. Accessed 10 May 2017.

Democracy Now. Independent Global News, 2017, 2016/12/27/headlines/obama_signs_defense_bill_establishing_anti_propaganda_center. Accessed 1 May 2017.

Duffy, John. “The Good Writer: Virtue Ethics and the Teaching of Writing.” College English, Vol. 79, No. 3, January 2017, Accessed 10 May 2017.

Gilens, Martin and Benjamin I. Page. “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens.”, Sept. 2014, testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf. Accessed 2 May 2017.

Griffin, Em. A First Look At Communication Theory Fifth Edition. McGraw-Hill Education, 2003.

Hudson, John “U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News to Americans.”, 14 July 2014, spreads-government-made-news-to-americans. Accessed 1 May 2017.

Jung, C G. Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 7: Two Essays On Analytical Psychology. Bollingen Foundation: Pantheon Books Inc., 1945.

“Melissa Zimdars: The Truth About Fake News.” PeakProsperity, 30 Apr. 2017, Accessed 1 May 2017.

OpenSources. Professionally curated lists of online sources, available free for public use, Accessed 11 May 2017.

PeakProsperity. Insights For Prospering While Our World Changes, Accessed 1 May. 2017.

“Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012.”, 10 May 2012, 112hr5736ih/pdf/BILLS-112hr5736ih.pdf. Accessed 1 May 2017.

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