Anonimity, or the urban versus rural dispute.

Miercuri, 26 Decembrie, Anul 4 d.Tr. | Autor: Mircea Popescu
    This article will be long, and exquisitely so. You probably want to settle down and enjoy rather than try to squeze it in, sandwiched between the slices of momentary nonsense the everydays of postmodernism have become.

If pressed, one'd be unlikely to produce much in the way of sensible distinction between urban and rural. I imagine a vocal majority of contemporaries, having been brought up in a diffuse and self-unaware urban tradition will immediately identify rurality as "bad" in the sense rural Sicilians taking a stroll in the late evening will immediately identify a black goat standing on its hind legs as "the devil". I further imagine the minority identifying itself with rurality (such as, for instance, the gun rights people in the States) will equally identify urbanity as the source of "evil" through means of "corruption" of some anciently-vague perfection, much akin to the mechanism employed in the xtian story of "the Fall".

To the student of people, whatever he may be called these daysi these modes are of course neutral, much akin the saw and the hammer to the carpenter. They also are easily distinguishable. The distinction is built around, believe it or not, information. Let us look at a little graph I drew to make this article seem more important to the visually mindedii.

rural-urban-1

There you have it, simple as pie. A town is a place where the cost of acquisition of information is high, and the cost of processing the information once acquired is also high. A village is a place where information is easy to get and cheap to process.

This may all seem dumb and pointless (especially because my lines aren't straightiii and the word acquired is misspelled) until you come to consider the problem of someone having stolen your goat.

So, if one evening you come back from a pleasant late evening stroll in some eternal village lost in Siciliaiv and find your beloved (black) goat missing, you have the unknown and unnamed problem of acquiring enough information and fiddling with it sufficiently so as to get your goat back. This is easy enough to do : your neighbour has seen someone fiddling at the goat coopv. Which neighbour ? Each and every last one of them, because people lost in rurality are so mindnumbingly bored out of their skulls that they keep watch on goatcoops in their spare time.

Well, who have they seen ? They have seen Georgio from three houses down with that no good Nicola and with some other smaller kid. This works out nicely because there exists exactly one Nicola in the entire villagevi, and the only smaller kid at the age of rumspringa is Daniel, so you've got them. You have got them, for the cost of five minutes' conversation with one indistinct and indistinguishablevii neighbour.

So now you stroll again, three houses down, lodge a formal complaint with His Royal Majesty's Commissioner of Facts and Deeds, Georgio's father, and have it stamped by il Sindaco e Podesta (the boy's mother) and before you know it a posse (of but two or three people, and without any horn or trumpet, sadly) is formed to apprehend the fugitives and bring them to justice. Apprehending them is easy enough to do because there is fucking nowhere to go, a prime attribute of a rural setting (and likely one of the causes of the "bad" above). Even if there were physically some place to go (which isn't all that frequent), there sure as hell isn't anywhere worth going to. Now this is important.

So, twenty minutes after having formed your posse, twenty five minutes after having lodged your complaint and a half hour after having discovered your beloved goat missing you have apprehended the culprits and are in the process of justicaring their dumb heads with a piece of flotsam or whatever else was handy at the time. Oh, and yes you have retrieved your goat, too. I nearly forgot to mention the goat, because it being retrieved is a given : there isn't anything to do in a rural setting, and consequently nothing to do to the goat, either. So it's there, safe and sound.

You take your goat back to its home co-op, lock it in there by the traditional means (one stick found on the ground stuck in the hinge) and go have your porridge. More importantly, the foreknowledge of this process, of its simplicity and efficiency keeps any would be Georgios and most would be Daniels out of the way of Nicola. Of course he's a bad seed, but in a village it is extremely efficient and trivially easy to oppress him and so he never manages to cause any sort of trouble.

The sort of trouble he would cause is not limited to stealing goats. The sort of trouble he would cause includes chief on the list disregarding social mores, such as for instance not taking other people's goats, not fucking women (or anyone else for that matter) in the ass, not believing in Pangloss' Godviii and so on and so forth. Actually, Nicola left to his own devices would sprout who knows what no end of trouble. He's entirely capable of inventing iPads just to have what to steal from your very hands while you're fumbling awkwardly riding a motorised bike at crazy speed. No, not you riding the bike, he riding the bike. You're fumbling.

I see you've made it thus far. Well done, and allow me to welcome you to the confusing setting of the town. It's never fucking clear what we're talking about here, because things get rapidly complex and context rules king. Well not exactly king, no. Context rules as chief whore, because if you ain't one you ain't got any business in town. Context I mean. Have you met Nicola, by the way ? Cause you say you're from New York, well, so is he. You know Nicola from New York ?

A, but you do know Nicola from Casteddammari ? Well good for you then! That is exactly the sort of context that us fancy town folk rely on to make choices and enact distinctions. For instance, you can now be made. Yes, just because you know some obscure Nicola. Precisely because he's obscure.

Its obscurity allows it to act as a lock, an item of great wonder which perhaps is most apt to symbolise the city itself.ix A lock. Your goat's safety and your continued enjoyment thereofx no longer can be ensured by social proof. It will have to be protected by a lock, or else be simply lost within minutes. Sure, attempts to move the old mechanisms of social control into the new setting have been made, but they all without exception fail.

In fact, the average size of the town can be calculated for which the police stops responding to break-ins. This is not a function of anything whatsoever but the cost of acquiring and processing information in that context. This is remarkably not a function of how technologically advanced society is, because obviously the same props are available to the "bad guys" as are available to the "good guys", and in this sense the hopes of "government" to improve safety by a reliance on technology are not unlike someone's hope of increasing a plane's safety by increasing its sizexi(and yes, it's been tried ad nauseam before it was comprehensively shown to not work).

So now there you have it, two thousand of the choicest words one could have set out on the white page to explain the urban versus rural dispute - and yes, I do challenge anyone to do better with less. Let me see you.

History informsxii that this dispute is by no means novel. The Greeks, one ancient empire, built rural settlements. The Romans, urban.

As far as the Greeks were concerned, a town was supposed to never grow larger than that size at which everyone knows everyone else. This point was important, paramount even. To avoid getting in trouble with it they sent out colonies, which were collections of people from the old town sent to make a new town. The bee's hive is a pretty good model, in the sense that a hive never grows large enough so that individual bees no longer have intimate contact with their queen - instead it splits, creating more queens and thus more colonies.

As far as the Romans were concerned, the town was the whole world, hence the famed address urbi et orbi which literally means "to the city and the globe". All the roads lead to Rome in this stellated structure where the central town grows large enough to fall off the map, to crack the very earth under its colossal weight. Colonies exist in the Roman space too, but not in the sense of new towns. They work more like your vacation chalet, provided you have one, or like your lover's apartment, provided you have one : a secondary place for some specific purpose, never to become anything else. Ostia (the port) would be the mold of each and any other Roman town.

To use an unwarranted and baseless thus quite productive analogyxiii, the classical Greek town is much akin to a virus whereas the classical Roman town is much akin to a neoplasm. To understand our own analogy : being like a neoplasm means that through no part of its existence the Roman town can be mistaken for anything else, and it also means that the Roman town is a self limiting disease. Eventually, it runs out of resources (and mind, these don't have to be physical resources - an ability to process data is also a resource) and so it runs out of history. Rome today is nothing but a smelly, inconvenient slum placed atop a lot of ancient ruins.

Being like a virus on the other hand means that through most of its lifecycle one'd require expert knowledge to recognise its presence, and also means that there's never going to be an end. Herpes evolved possibly before humans, and it is still here with us. Nothing would give more pleasure to the mentally ill medical profession than to erradicate herpes, yet it can simply not be done. The common cold is no different. In fact, mitochondria, the little cell structures responsible for heat processing (much like your car engine is that little car part responsible for heat processing) are by all appearances the net result of an early viral infectionxiv.

The Roman town produced a visible blip on the histomap, one that is still remembered a few centuries later by... myself, practically speaking, and the other five or so anthropologists who were around earlier, when it was still called theologianxv. The Greek town is not remembered at all, but everything about it is still visible everywhere you look. Did you know for instance that at its apex the Greek empire was much larger than the Roman ever became ? Do you have any idea how much of Iran's culture was actually produced by Greeks ? Can you guess what percent of white influence on mainstream China is Greek ? Questions best left for another time.

And now, with this shakily solid understanding of complex and important matters we collectively know nothing about even if I myself know plenty (and enough so to give you a shimmering, temporary illusion that you do too), we can proceed to discuss anonimity, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.

So, very much exactly alike the governmental attempt to survive by resolving the wrong problem through a surveillance state, anonimity is the individual attempt to counter the state by also resolving the wrong problem, just the other way. As such it is a failed approach. It may be temporarily and limitedly useful, in any context dominated by that collapsing Morloch which metastasizing Romanity always becomes sooner or later. However, it is neither useful in itself nor good in itself, and more importantly it is no way to live.

I see plenty of people trying to survive as anonymous entities. This is pure nonsense, it's no way to live, it will render you insane. Anonimity can only be useful if you are already somebody. A fifteen year old who never had a chance or a place to establish himself moving right on into "anonymity" as teens are wont to do (because it's cool and what the cool people do, obviously) is fucking himself (or herself) over a lot more and a lot worse than that teenager in the picture in the notes who gave herself up to be put in irons around the wrists and ankles.

Worse, because the girl in the pink skirt can mostly clean herself up when it's all said and done and count herself more for the experience. A woman's flower is for the plucking, thus somehow pluckt it shall be. Who's to say which way is "best" ? The teen wasting his formative years avoiding formation can never have his formative years back.

More importantly, anonimity could in principle work as the tool of the state just as well! It's irrelevant whether the filthy oppressor is trying to build the Panopticon whereas the heroic resistance is valiantly fighting to maintain anonimity or rather if the filthy oppressor is trying to erase everyone's identity, dissolving them into an anonymous soup and the heroic resistance is valiantly fighting to preserve everyone's identityxvi. The point, as the Frenchies say, is somewhere else.

So there you have it, this is why "I don't seem to care much about anonimity". I actually do not. I have no intention of living by some government's permission, as the rat in the sewer. I am no mosquito, I am a motherfucking moose. It makes no difference whatever whether that permission is obtained above the board or cajoled through crafty devices of any kind, it's simply not a game I play. I intend to force any government now extant or yet to be devised to live by my permission.

I intend to force any government now extant or yet to be devised to live by my permission, and no amount of contextualizing, crafty town speak or clever confounding of the problems can possibly move one inch of that. Which in the end is exactly as it should be.

The good news being that from what I hear all that's needed are five.

———
  1. I hear "anthropologist" has surpassed "philosopher" and sits now at the #1 spot on the list. []
  2. Which is another way of saying uneducated louts, in the hebrew tradition of symbolic representation, because only uneducated louts would be unable to process data "in their head" upon hearing it described and would require visual aids. The coincidence that this'd perforce include most women doesn't obviously bother the hebrew tradition in the least. And since we're on the topic, note the "he may be called" at the beginning of the paragraph, too. It is unintentional, of course. []
  3. But lo! Why should the lines be straight if you're not a conceptual but a visual thinker ? Doesn't the mess of incidental, irrelevant and misleading detail conveyed by the visual representation help you think ? I thought that was the theory, at any rate. []
  4. Like for instance this one. []
  5. Absolutely incidentally, don't you find it remarkable that the same word is used for the place to keep chickens and for the place to keep modern-day revolutionaries, the ex commune ? I do, and by remarkable I mean hysterical. []
  6. Hence the imperative that "no good" be appended to his name in any case it's mentioned, lest this particular and valuable distinction should somehow become lost. []
  7. Obviously neighbours are only indistinguishable in the place where they are quite distinct, that is to say an urban setting - walk the floors of an old brownstone tenement in a poor section of some large town, you'll see more variety than the world entire has to offer. In the setting where they are actually quite interchangeable, being the same race and the same exact culture to a point they are treated as if exceptionally distinct. Do not ask me why, I have no better answer than "that old contrarian human nature". []
  8. You know, Pangloss, Candide's master, anthropologist living necessarily in the best rural setting possible. []
  9. And in point of fact it does, acording to the banner of the one person that'd know : the pope. []
  10. No, it's not some elaborate code meant to denote a woman, kinda young such as for instance this one. Stop trying to read things into what I say. Especially if things aren't there. But how would you know ? []
  11. Incidentally, the "surveillance state" some whities are currently trying to build is a nonsense approach to the information problem. Supposedly, if you record everything then the cvasi-zero costs of information acquisitions in the village can be replicated in the town. The fact that this comes to a cvasi-infinite cost of information storage, leaving alone the problem of processing altogether, doesn't seem to have occured as of yet, but we have high hopes for the centuries ahead. They'll figure out the banal eventually, people can always be trusted to. Eventually. And yes, since you mention it, this problem is not quite so unlike the problem discussed earlier about the graph, so yes, since you mention it this would be a feminine sort of idea in the first place. It has nothing to do with females in the fenotipical sense, it's just that whities have collectivelly turned into pussies. Also, since you mention it, yes I was roaring with laughter when I first heard someone came up with the idea of enlisting "the Internet" (which is not a collection of tubes!) to do webcam watching for burglar catching. People who aren't part of the Internet imagine it's a sort of beast of burden, to be tied to whatever cart you want. In reality, it's certainly true that it has a lot of power, but chief among its powers is picking what cart to pull. In general hilarity ensues. []
  12. For your information, this is the place in the classical discourse where we recourse to history []
  13. Funny how that works out, isn't it []
  14. Did you know, incidentally, that while mitochondria do reproduce just like the cells they are part of reproduce, they have their own, separate genetic code ? Which isn't either part of or muchly compatible with the cell's main DNA, kept in the nucleus (a sanctum into which no mitochondria dares enter). Moreover, because sperm cells have no mitochondria, the mother's genetics can always be traced from woman to woman all the way to the beginning of the race. Interesting stuff huh. []
  15. That's before philosopher, which is to say before the late post scholastic philosopher which is in its turn post sophistic which is all you'd possibly know about on account of your early age. []
  16. In case you do not know, this has already been played out once. Where do you suppose the namereading in church comes for, as the simplest example ? The church fought in its early days exactly the reverse problem, state enforced anonimity, as ridiculous notions such as St. Peter's book stand to attest. []
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22 Responses

  1. You just can´t stop being an anarchist cunt, can´t you, Che Mirchea?! Always so cocky, masculine and smart that you just can´t read anything here without doing ad hominem attacks instead of rem.

    hebrew tradition

    Based on their ban of depicting gods/religious scenes? If so, arabs got the thing, for they ban the same?

    No, it’s not some ellaborate code meant to denote a woman, kinda young such as for instance this one. Stop trying to read things into what I say. Especially if things aren’t there. But how would you know ? [↩]

    Fuck you, nobody would see that there, you´re actually messing up your own argument with unnecessary info.

    Capra makes sense only in romanian.

    Do you have any idea how much of Iran’s culture was actually produced by Greeks ?

    Rasis.

  2. tl;dr :D

    Warmest wishes for a happy holiday season and a wonderful new year for owner and all readers of this blog!

  3. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    3
    Mircea Popescu 
    Joi, 27 Decembrie 2012

    But especially owner.

  4. Especially pwner and his slaves.

    Miss you all so much! :)

  5. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    5
    Mircea Popescu 
    Vineri, 28 Decembrie 2012

    Suffer, suffer :D

  6. So if I understand what you're implying right, you would prefer to have smaller human communities that can self-regulate. But any complex endeavor like say... NASA, needs lots of people at the same place to work. I think these large complex structures like towns, corporations and big government are kind of a necessary evil.

  7. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    7
    Mircea Popescu 
    Miercuri, 16 Ianuarie 2013

    On one hand, while it's true that I'd prefer it, I don't think it comes to a matter of my preference. I think it plays out along the lines of historical necessity. It's neither avoidable nor really delayable.

    On the other, the problem of organisation is likely more complex than simply saying "a corporation is a necessary evil". MPEx is a corporation entirely ethereal and yet it outperforms most if not any of the old style corporations in those terms that matter.

  8. So you think it's inevitable because it mimics successful patterns in nature, but you can also think of towns and large corporations as organisms, having specialized organs, supply lines, etc. which to me seems plausible. I mean herpes and bees are nice and all, but if you need to do more complex things you need more structure.

  9. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    9
    Mircea Popescu 
    Miercuri, 16 Ianuarie 2013

    @gheorghe But whatever you do, you don't need dinosaurs.

  10. gheorghe`s avatar
    10
    gheorgheinsigna de tehnologinsigna pentru 1000 de comentarii 
    Joi, 17 Ianuarie 2013

    Hmm, good point. If cities are organisms and nothing lives forever, cities should also die somehow. Lots of them died in the past, but it seems almost inconceivable for a well placed city to just "die" in our day and age, assuming we can keep pumping energy into them at an ever increasing rate or manage to make them more efficient. Maybe the resource shortage will force a change, or maybe we'll be able to extract huge amounts of energy from atoms and shizz.

    As for the information overload, the real problem is the internet... I don't think you can make that into a village.

  11. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    11
    Mircea Popescu 
    Joi, 17 Ianuarie 2013

    You can't make that into anything BUT a collection of villages, precisely because of the overload problem.

  12. gheorghe`s avatar
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    gheorgheinsigna de tehnologinsigna pentru 1000 de comentarii 
    Joi, 17 Ianuarie 2013

    But the largest community will clobber the rest in anything that counts. So the one who can process more data from more individuals will win. As the tools for processing data get more and more sophisticated, you can grow them pretty big, and of course you'll also grow them past their limits, giving the evildoers some space where they can do their thing, but relative to the benefits of the whole thing they should be just a small nuisance, or else they'll ruin the whole thing and something else will need to be thought out. Just like in the real life.

  13. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    13
    Mircea Popescu 
    Joi, 17 Ianuarie 2013

    The "largest" ? Why do you think headcount matters on the Interwebs ?

  14. gheorghe`s avatar
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    gheorgheinsigna de tehnologinsigna pentru 1000 de comentarii 
    Joi, 17 Ianuarie 2013

    Wisdom of the crowds :D

  15. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    15
    Mircea Popescu 
    Joi, 17 Ianuarie 2013

    Ya, glwt.

  16. gheorghe`s avatar
    16
    gheorgheinsigna de tehnologinsigna pentru 1000 de comentarii 
    Joi, 17 Ianuarie 2013

    I was thinking for example as bitcoin being one of these villages, but the "fiat" system can also be considered a village, as it basically runs on the internet. Right now the fiat thingy is much larger and also evidently more powerful than bitcoin.

  17. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    17
    Mircea Popescu 
    Joi, 17 Ianuarie 2013

    Still the sloppy thinker, I see. How can fiat be "a village" when the definition of a village is all villagers know each other ?

  18. gheorghe`s avatar
    18
    gheorgheinsigna de tehnologinsigna pentru 1000 de comentarii 
    Joi, 17 Ianuarie 2013

    Well, at least all the big players know each other.

  19. gheorghe`s avatar
    19
    gheorgheinsigna de tehnologinsigna pentru 1000 de comentarii 
    Joi, 17 Ianuarie 2013

    A FRACTAL VILLAGE!

  20. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    20
    Mircea Popescu 
    Joi, 17 Ianuarie 2013

    Yaya, buzzwords save lives.

  21. gheorghe`s avatar
    21
    gheorgheinsigna de tehnologinsigna pentru 1000 de comentarii 
    Joi, 17 Ianuarie 2013

    It's not a buzzword, just a way to explain something. At every level of aggregation everybody who's in the business knows everybody else.

  1. [...] fringe. If you’ve read Anabasisii you have a ready example there. If you’re more of a visual type of thinker any group of superhero-spies in any installment of pulp fiction you’ve digested recently [...]

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