A mental problem

Thursday, 27 March, Year 6 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

Every society (and every culture, should we feel generous this morning and pretend like the United States amounts to a culture, which otherwise in the clear light of day it certainly does not) has its flaws, invisible to they socialised therein like water to fish, quite visible if inexpressible to anyone socialised in a different soup, quite readily expressible for that rare bird that comfortably nests on any number of entirely different social trees.

The society of the United States (and its absent, but let's say "budding" culture) is no exception. Shocking, I know. Like every other society made out of first-shoewearing-generation material, the society of the United States imagines itself quite very exceptional. This will pass, of course, in time.

To sum it up, consider the opening narration of the quite excellent All About Evei (in the superb bass of George Sanders) :

The Sarah Siddons Award for Distinguished Achievement is perhaps unknown to you. It has been spared the sensational and commercial publicity that attends such questionable "honors" as the Pulitzer Prize and those awards presented annually by that... film... society.

The distinguished looking gentleman is an extremely old actor. Being an actor - he will go on speaking for some time. It is not important that you hear what he says.

However it is important that you know where you are, and why you are here. This is the dining room of the Sarah Siddons Society. The occasion is its annual banquet and presentation of the highest honor our Theater knows - the Sarah Siddons Award for Distinguished Achievement.

These hollowed walls, indeed many of these faces, have looked upon Modjeska, Ada Rehan and Minnie Fiske; Mansfield's voice filled the room, Booth breathed this air. It is unlikely that the windows have been opened since his death.

To those of you who do not read, attend the Theater, listen to unsponsored radio programs or know anything of the world in which we live - it is perhaps necessary to introduce myself. My name is Addison deWitt. My native habitat is the Theater - in it I toil not, neither do I spin. I am a critic and commentator. I am essential to the Theater - as ants are to a picnic, as the boll weevil to a cotton field...

The film, premiere'd in 1950, was trying to look back to an earlier time, a gentler time... Sarah Siddons was lady Macbeth in the 1800s.

Doesn't it sound all very distinguished and polished and chic, all this ? The USG men had just finished ravishing all of Europeii and it was just about time to start pretending like the dreary Ozarks and the desolate Sierras can somehow play Olympus. What, some square jawed, chewing gum chewing cowboys and shop clerks can't be Roman citizens ? Sure they can, they got ears to lend as good as anyone, for 5½ a year. Just drape them in some bedsheets or something.

And the wrapping in bedsheets that had started with Cincinnati, Ohioiii continued at rather brisk pace : in 1952, which is to say two years after a film lays out a lot of US pretense to grandeur, Ronald Reagan's mother and some friends create an award pretending to be just as dignified IRL as that thing they saw in a film sometime (two years prior) pretended to be. Including a statuette copied after the one Zanuck invented for the film. And so the Sarah Siddons society of Chicago was born. You know, Chicago, a town so chic it starts with itiv. That thing still gives out awards, by the way, for "distinguished achievement" in theatrical Chicago. To people like J. Peterman from Seinfeld, whatever his name is. And to people who never acted in Chicago, in complete contradiction to the chartered pretense. Why ? Well, because that's the structural make-up of people made to pretend, which is to say made to followv : once a better pretense comes along they'll just switch to pretending that. While all along, of course, pretending whatever it is to be pretended, as per the pretense guidelines : that it's distinguished, or exclusive, or whatever else. Rule of the law ? Sure, one can pretend that as well as anything else, should the master order.

Now let us leave all these lofty considerations aside and focus on a much more personal problem :

    * Personvi (814e38cb@gateway/web/freenode/ip.maybe.read.this) has joined #bitcoin-assets
    Person Hey guys.
    benkay Hey Person, what's news.
    Person Sorry I'm a bit of a noob, can anyone help me out? What is a good price for S.MPOE and how do I get into it?
    mircea_popescu It's a good idea to take your time, read, etc. MPOE isn't going anywhere.

    Person Ok sounds good. Where do I start?
    mircea_popescu Here. The log is in the topic. You can read that backwards, it's enlightening

    Person The irc log?vii
    mircea_popescu Yes.

    Person Seems a bit dry...viii
    BingoBoingo Was there something earlier about needing an education experienced person to contribute to a reading list?
    mircea_popescu Yes there was. But I gather the consensus was, dump everything on lampelina and then scream at her for it not being right.

    BingoBoingo I might actually have training and experience in the education field.
    mircea_popescu So in that case maybe put together something ?ix

    BingoBoingo Lemme GPG and paste the credentials.
    Person Anything more directly informative? I'm not really sure I want to read through this whole log--- even so far there's a lot of fluff...
    TestingUnoDosTre Here https://coinbr.com/about
    mircea_popescu Not really. It's like a monk's life, you know ? No way to separate the learning from the toil.

    Person Thanks guys, I'll have a look into this. I have somewhat of a futures background, but I'd like to make sure I'm well informed before I start on this side of things.
    mircea_popescu It may seem preposterous to begin with, but take the word of a stranger in a chatroom : the time you spend reading that stupid fluff will be the best ROI of your life.

    Person You're not a stranger :) But unfortunately I'm not in a position to read long IRC chat logs
    Apocalyptic You don't have to read all of it at once you know.
    Person It goes on for months.
    mircea_popescu Years, actually.

    Person Not everyone has time for that. Seems like there are better sources for the information. I don't want your judgement, I just want to know where to start to inform myself.
    chetty The log with the Reuters interview would be a good start.
    mircea_popescu I guess, if he were specifically a journalist looking for how to behave in the new, post-fiat world.

    Person How can I even know that the discussion in here is reliable or correct?
    mircea_popescu You can't. Which is part of your problem.

    Person So why would I bother reading years of unreliable and irrelevant discussion?
    BingoBoingo So that you might in a year know what parts are reliable.
    mircea_popescu That you can't figure out that it is reliable and relevant doesn't make it the opposite.

    chetty The interview log has a lot of good links.
    Person I have to go now, lunch break over and have work to do. Thanks for everyone's help. Sadly, not everyone has infinite time.
    mircea_popescu The beauty of life on Earth is that no one has infinite time. So it's always a sorting problem.x

    Person Well reading that IRC log would simply break my np complexity limits :v
    mircea_popescu That's the point :Dxi I think this convo may actually become canonical link-to for future people who have the problem. Not unrelated to "Where can I read all about the English language ?" "Uh... just pick up a book ?" "What if it sucks ?" "... what do you want from me!"

    * Person has quit (Ping timeout: 245 seconds)

    benkay You don't have to read the whole logs, just sit and lurk and digest. It'll be great ROI, take it from a stranger

So now... what is the magic pill that will allow one to pretend that they are part of Bitcoin ? Where's that thing US folk want because they've been trained to want because it's so much easier and cheaper to pretend like pretense's a thing than to actually put in the work and time to become Europe ? (Which one can never do, of course, Europe itself included, of course. Because no-one has millenia, that's too much time to ask, get out of here!)

There isn't such a thing, of course. If you want a respectable theatrical award what's required is an actual theater, with actual performance. A film depicting the fiction of an award for a fictitious theater with fictitious performers performing fictitiously is no substitute. It has nothing to do, no matter how convincingly it'd do it.

This endless quest for substitute, for hambuger meat that's "just as good" as roast, for tan in a bottle that's just as tan-y as the kiss of the sun, for certification that's just as good as competence and slow death that's just as good as life... this endless nonsense is a mental problem. It's not sane, it's not common, it's definitely not universal. It's merely a disease of the mind, the result of a stray youth.

Try and fix it. But for the love of everything nice : try and fix it. Actually. Don't try and make pretend as if you've just as good as fixed it. You know ?

  1. An "American" film made by that Jew Mankiewicz, written by that German Kästner, narrated by that Englishman Sanders etc.

    Course, Davis is from Massachusetts and Zanuck from Nebraska, but please don't distract me from my point. []

  2. A process started, in fairness, by itself. Something like this : a boy spies a girl in a clearing in the woods. She's presently lifting her skirt, rubbing and pinching rudely at her own skin, at her own flesh... she starts bucking and heaving and biting her lip, and suddenly her left tit clearly beckons to the boy, invites him in, asks for his help to protect its legitimate tit interests from the unwelcome advances of... the other tit. So the boy joins in the fray, splits the lips vigurously and... well... finishes ravishing Europe, wouldn't you say ?

    Next thing you know, some decade later, her face's earthen and her back hunched, her once gloriously globular breast rendered mysteriously concave, her once mighty thrashing and heaving a barely audible whisper, somewhere within. Meanwhile the cocky young gent feels incredibly important and keeps bringing his guns to town, where he keeps getting shot by various old cowpokes. []

  3. At least they don't go around trying to call towns Chicago-Napoca, like the mentally defective Romanians... []
  4. Victor/Victoria. []
  5. Yes, the United States consists of people who, by their nature, innately, as a substance - unequivocal, unchangeable - make excellent servants. For as long as there's someone to tell America what to do, it's a great and happy place. Its current troubles today stem from exactly this : it has been abandoned by the world. Without a master to obey, without some boots to lick it's lost, and thrashing unhappily in a clearing. From what I'm told there's a boy or two spying this as we speak. []
  6. I am not going to name them because I don't believe the person in question actually is either responsible or particularly representative of the much larger, archetypal matters being discussed. They're just a person, let them be, as such, and let me be too. Let me be, allow me to comment on the general without forcing me to force any one person into any one particular box for the purpose. This, after all, is the first great step on the path of literacy : the concrete-abstract separation. []
  7. The general public seems to have this deeply entrenched notion that irc logs are the lowest form of... not even wit, they seem to think irc logs are the dumpster of civilisation, so much so that when I mention the SEC had to come hither the result is disbelief.

    There are a great many other deeply entrenched notions in the general public. One is the notion that the unbanked are victims being bilked. Another is that spanked kids are abused (as opposed to the ignored kids, which are just fine), and women enslaved unhappy (as opposed to the ones nobody gives a shit about, who are the paragon of happiness, with a touch of neurosis, two spoonfuls of depression and don't forget to refill your prescription). And on it goes, endlessly.

    Needless to observe that these deeply entrenched notions aren't simply wrong : they are exactly opposite of right, their direct negation is actually true. Meanwhile, wrong as they may well be, they are also being promoted, for the very good reason that nothing keeps one enslaved as well as convincing him that freedom is poison. Who's going to go around tasting poison just to see ? This perversity served the Catholic church well for millenia, obviously the state, successor to the Church, isn't about to give it up of its own accord. []

  8. Personally I'd like a second opinion on this point. To me it reads delightfully, one of the few places where English prose flows readably for the most part, especially at any time there's not too many noobs talking. []
  9. Nobody is denying that we do actually need a sort of 中國古典典籍, some kind of Essential Bitcoin Reading list. However, a culture doesn't just spring to life with the canon in hand, a la America. These things have to be built, and their building takes time. Which is the point of this entire thing, and of the parts of the entire thing, and of the subtext of this entire thing and of the references and of everything else. If it doesn't take time it's not worth your time. []
  10. It is. You have twenty four hours each day. That you "don't have time" to wait at my door on your hands and knees to mayhap catch a glimpse of me smoking doesn't mean anything but that you consider other things a better use of your time. There's strictly nothing in a "don't have time" outside of a "I would much rather do something else". There's nothing wrong with that, but consider your position : you walk into a shop, pick out an item, the clerk tells you a price. You retort by saying that... you don't have any money ? But my dear man! The door is right over there!

    The important difference being, of course, that there do exist people who have absolutely no money whatsoever, and what's even worse, people who have more or less than others, horrible dictu! Meanwhile, we have all exactly, but I do mean exactly the same time, all the time. Apparently equality isn't serving us so well after all, is it now. []

  11. It is. Just like there's nothing better that can be done for the girl rubbing her tits in the clearing, be her name Europa or Columbia or whatever else, than rudely stretching out her cunt to meet outside standards all the way to making her bleed, just so there's no better use to your "limits". They're there to be bled. []
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10 Responses

  1. Re footnote viii: it's incredibly dry. You have two enormous advantages over the average joe:

    1. You have some people on your ignore list, and otherwise can identify when someone like vexual is talking and so not have to treat his nonsense as something you have to fully read and understand, and
    2. It's far more interesting to you because you're in it.

    There are good spots, but they're spots. Fnding them in the rough of the logs as they are is a near sisyphean task for a complete noob, because how would they?

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Thursday, 27 March 2014

    The thesis is that their trying is exactly how they lose the noob hat. It's a process, not a pill. It probably hurts, and it definitely should hurt.

  3. At least they don’t go around trying to call towns Chicago-Napoca, like the mentally defective Romanians

    Somewhat related: http://citynews.ro/eveniment/foto-stenograma-sedintei-care-cluj-devenit-cluj-napoca-cum-s-au-contrat-sotii-ceausescu-pe

  4. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Thursday, 27 March 2014

    "Buda si Pesta nu este la fel ?"

    Epic mosu'. Ce pula mea, si New York si Ciang Hai ala... pai numa' noi sa fim mai fraeri ? Pina cind sa n-avem si noi falitii nostri!

  5. Peter Lambert`s avatar
    Peter Lambert 
    Thursday, 27 March 2014

    If they want to learn about MPEx, you should give them a link to this website, or perhaps the mpex category here. Likewise, if somebody wants to learn about bitcoins, they should read the bitcoin category here.

  6. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Friday, 28 March 2014

    Sure, but on the other hand I wouldn't want my own quirks and foibles baked in too deep. Not saying that the respective categories aren't helpful, but I'd rather they be in addition to.

  1. [...] The place where reality meets fiction is, of course, education, and in that hallowed yet wholly perverse environment the plot coupon mechanism is reproduced, to the best of the gaolers' ability. They do issue diplomas, after all, which are just about glorified plot coupons (and suffer from all the problems of "useful" plot coupons, such as the infinity+1 sword issueii and so on). So it's in a sense excusable that people imagine they will step out of the Halls of Convenient Fiction into reality and encounter some sort of whatever it may be, but definitely organised by the rules of fiction they're so familiar with. And if they don't... well! They can always pretend! [...]

  2. [...] "celebrities at an awards ceremony", eh ? This is quite what is meant by What, some square jawed, chewing gum chewing cowboys and shop clerks can't be Roman citizens ? Sure ... [...]

  3. [...] extreme prejudice) because seriously, get some anodyne georgist to introduce Spencer ? What sort of imbecile Americana is this [...]

  4. [...] with the character development experienced by any other piece of furniture on stage. While Modjeska soared and burned, each night after night on the stage, the... chair, you know the chair, that [...]

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