Am I A Butterfly?

Somewhere there are still peoples and herds, but not with us, my brethren: here there are states.
A state? What is that? Well! open now your ears unto me, for now will I say unto you my word concerning the death of peoples.
A state, is called the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly lieth it also; and this lie creepeth from its mouth: ‘I, the state, am the people.’
F. Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra: The New Idol

What need we presume from Nietzsche? Is the case not already clear, and clearly seen by all? Well, perhaps not by all, because the state still has the capacity to cloud over the minds of men. It can confuse, camouflage, cajole, confab and connive the innocent or the unwary. It can placate the masses with morsels and mead. It can force our surrender before its almighty wisdom and sanctity.

Not 150 years later we see the results in the revelations of Manning, Assange, Snowden and many others whose stories are not as well known. But, we see it daily in our presses. The State Department and its covert ops, in consort with the likes of George Soros has been involved in telling lies forever. From Chile, Italy, Brazil, Guatamala, Yugoslavia, and Greece, to Guyana, Iran, Syria, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, and Cuba, not to mention the Balkans, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Georgia, and Ukraine, we have engaged in wholesale death and destruction while instigating or enforcing regime change, no matter the cost.

state-dept.-spokesperson-jen-psaki-with-bossAnd yet, these yahoos, stand around at their fancy State Department soirees, toasting one another’s ignorance and their incontestable inability to communicate effectively with their fellow man. When will the good people of this country understand the evil that lurks in the heart of empire, all empire… and especially the American Empire.

And we keep fooling ourselves that all of this killing is for the good of mankind. Not, that I care for the good of mankind. But I do care for those who have inhabited the land without malice, who have lived relatively peaceful lives within nature, and learned to survive its hardships gracefully. We keep destroying ancient cultures, archaic traditions, and sacred lands. We think nothing of tearing apart the earth and asphyxiating the atmosphere. And according to the CEO of Nestle company, we would not think twice about privatizing water rights. According to the Nestle CEO,  no person has a RIGHT to water just because he/she lives. I feel much like Chuang Tzu now, the taoist philosopher who woke up one day not sure if he was a man having dreamt he was a butterfly, or rather was a butterfly now dreaming he was a man.

And while our tyrant is busy funding Ukraine’s bond bailout for arms sales (in order to stuff the coffers of our military industry and kill Russians), our best academician and theorist on Russia and Ukraine, Stephen Cohen from Princeton, is having his own Chuang Tzu butterfly moment.

It is not merely a deeply-seated need to create enemies that drives us. And it is not simply the extreme resource depletion globally driving our greed, although both are significant triggers of our psychopathology. But the real culprit behind all of these psycho-sociopathic inclinations is the radical infantilization of our natures (what Paul Shepard calls our neoteny), that is a rather direct result of what our civilization has done to our humanity.

Shepard argues that the long phylogeny of the human species in the Pleistocene epoch included, as one of its most distinguishing evolutionary features, a remarkably long period of neoteny, or biological immaturity, in which human beings graduate through successive phases of development with the mediation of cultural and biological expressions and rituals [implying] an originary or primal zone of indistinction between the cultural and the biological aspects of life… This suggests an original wholeness, health and vitality unknowable for those of us whose personal emergence as individuals, whose ontogeny, or ‘coming into being’ has been marred by our deprivation of cultural and biological factors.

This may in fact be our lot in life, a ‘civilized’ life elongated in hours and years, but truncated in maturity and genuine vitality, due to a loss or forgetfulness of our Pleistocene beginnings.

17 Responses to Am I A Butterfly?

  1. Disaffected says:

    From the Cohen link:

    This problem did not begin in November 2013 or in 2008, this problem began in 1990’s when the Clinton administration adopted a “winner-takes-all” policy towards post-Soviet Russia.

    Yep. On first blush, the US global monster has seemingly morphed into something completely unrecognizable only a generation ago. But the signs of its inevitable coming were there all along, we just chose to ignore it. Clinton paved the way for Cheney/Bush, who in turn paved the way for Obama. And so it goes. Whoever wears the crown after 2016 will be largely irrelevant, the malignant US foreign policy will continue to metastasize – with the overwhelming approval of the American populace no doubt – no matter what. Interesting times indeed!

  2. Terry David says:

    I’m coming to the conclusion that evolution of mankind has created superpredators that come from a long line of defective and stunted humans with a common need to subjugate and control; first land, then animal and ultimately, other humans. They may have been an unpleasant “feature” of mankind’s overtaking of the earth, but they now constitute a “bug.” They must destroy that which they can’t control. At each step the ante has been raised, the stakes gotten higher and the leaders more sophisticated in their psychopathology. Those with a drive to lead mankind are the most notoriously unfit to do so. There is no symbiosis to be found for the benefit of mankind, let alone other life on earth. Perhaps symbiosis in the “deceit business” but like a virus that kills its host only to move on to another, there’s always been another frontier to attack, another up-and-coming region or people to decimate. But they’ve run out of frontiers. Now the world is full of human “obstructions” to universal hegemony.

    What’s also different now is that up this point, we have not had quite so many different ways to destroy life on this planet. I would never have thought that the nuclear armageddon option would have been the least of our worries. Now we can engineer transhuman super soldiers in our superpredators’ image. We can engineer disease pathogens to destroy whole swaths of life. We can genetically engineer “food” that can create infertility several generations down the line, far removed from those who perpetrated it but not necessarily from those who would benefit. And then the specter of artificial intelligence taking control of “progress” seems to have those who heretofore supported technological progress giving pause.

    Even in the absence of malice, how many weapons do you have to have lying around before an accident worthy of their power will occur? In the presence of malice, who will be deemed “obsolete life forms” in the future? I don’t know. But I can pretty much guarantee that whoever is in a position to make that judgement will be the at the pinnacle of where human evolution has led. It will always be sold as “their” destruction- but it will be our own. And of course it will be “for our own good.”

    If ever there has been a need for a world power to be a check on the power of the Universal Hegemon, it is now.

    Thank you, KC for a thought provoking post.

    • Disaffected says:

      Your comment makes me wonder whether Darwin’s theory didn’t give all this a little push as well. Certainly greed and ambitions of empire had long existed and led to ruin for so many, but evolution was was such a perfect pairing with capitalism, which were both perfectly paired with the discovery of oil, that I can help but wonder if this wasn’t a perfect storm of sorts, the mythical triple headed beast to bring man down from his lofty intellectual perch. In any case, it appears that that is how it all is going to play out now, with man going down fighting man to the last, in an epic misguided tragic play of survival of the fittest. But I think the greatest tragedy is not that silly men wanted to kill each other; but rather, that man thought he owned the whole planet to do with as he chose as well, and then, quite predictably, destroyed all that in the process too. We won’t be missed biologically. Perhaps we’ll laugh at our folly when we’re all on the other side of death’s veil before we move on to whatever’s next? Or perhaps we’re doomed to repeat a similar evolutionary drama over and over until we get it right?

  3. the Heretick says:

    Neon lights, Nobel Prize
    When a mirror speaks, the reflection lies
    You won’t have to follow me
    Only you can set me free

    I sell the things you need to be
    I’m the smiling face on your TV
    I’m the cult of personality
    I exploit you, still you love me
    I tell you one and one makes three

    Living Colour

    Enough about me, what about me?

    The illusion of progress requires a belief that we are actually going somewhere, thinking such as this presupposes a linearity of time, a subject which we are still speculating about.

    We have pushed back the night, done away with the fire at the mouth of the cave to discourage the creatures out there in the dark. There are no more shadows on the wall to remind us that there just maybe something other than ourselves, now we are all insubstantial, flickering motes dancing around the atomic flame. Fear of death, fear of the dark, has been replaced with the all pervading luminescent glow of the terminal, the unblinking eye of the checkout scanner, and the primacy of the UPC.

    I, like many others, have come to the conclusion that governing large numbers of people is an impossibility. Furthermore, I have come to the conclusion that the Biblical curse of knowledge just may have something to it, science has proven not to be neutral, it never was.

    Welcome to the desert of the real. That vague feeling that you are missing something? A mirage, irrlicht, a figment of your imagination, take a pill, it’s socially acceptable, maybe you should see a doctor.

    Maybe put it on your credit card.

    • DA says:

      Furthermore, I have come to the conclusion that the Biblical curse of knowledge just may have something to it, science has proven not to be neutral, it never was.

      So have I. The knowledge, actually delusion, that we are in control of our reality has been our downfall. Science as a method for studying reality is good. Science as a practice in the hands of fallible mortal beings has been an utter disaster.

      • the Heretick says:

        The masses are fed a fairy tale, the powerful pursue their own interests.
        Our society is synthetic, reality is debatable, disorientation the rule of the day.
        To break free is near impossible, all land is owned, or controlled by governments,, and the skills to survive forgotten.
        Even cable shows about people living on the edges in places such as Alaska have machines being used extensively.
        I believe the inequities in society are a surer recipe for disaster than ecological collapse, though it’s a real horse race.
        Once things do start downhill in earnest we can expect a real snowball effect due to cascading failure.

        • DA says:

          Most of that snowball effect has merely been externalized for now to the third world. Many parts of the world are already well into the cascading failure portion of collapse. Here in the first world we comfort ourselves by blaming “corrupt third world regimes” and the like, not realizing that what we’ve done to them will be done to us soon enough as well. Talk to inner city blacks here in the US and they’ll tell what it’s like right now.

  4. Disaffected says:

    And we keep fooling ourselves that all of this killing is for the good of mankind. Not, that I care for the good of mankind. But I do care for those who have inhabited the land without malice, who have lived relatively peaceful lives within nature, and learned to survive its hardships gracefully. We keep destroying ancient cultures, archaic traditions, and sacred lands. We think nothing of tearing apart the earth and asphyxiating the atmosphere.

    I wonder if at some conscious or subconscious level all this isn’t a societal suicidal death wish at this point. All but the most naive among us here in the west know in our gut that something’s deeply wrong, whether we can put it into words or not and regardless of our personal circumstances. US foreign policy used to be marked by moderation, at least toward the other major powers who could do us harm in return, whereas now it seems like we’re swinging for the fences at every turn without regard to economic, military, and diplomatic fallout. I think the powers that be especially, who are certainly in a position to know, know full well that industrial civilization (at least, if not humanity altogether) is about to go through a historic bottleneck from which a whole lot fewer of us are going to emerge, and that they are now actively fomenting the process. It’s a good time to be old and near the end anyway I guess.

    • the Heretick says:

      “According to Baudrillard, capitalism rests on an obsession with the abolition of death. Capitalism tries to abolish death through accumulation. It tries to ward off ambivalence (associated with death) through value (associated with life). But this is bound to fail. General equivalence – the basis of capitalism – is itself the ever-presence of death. The more the system runs from death, the more it places everyone in solitude, facing their own death. Life itself is fundamentally ambivalent. The attempt to abolish death through fixed value is itself deathly.”

      • Disaffected says:

        That’s a nice summation. Capitalism’s primal urge is to monetize everything – even death – so that it can be quantified and exchanged in an “open market.” We see this now most transparently in the aptly named “Health Care Exchanges,” where access to medical care – or more pointedly, denial of access to medical care – is all neatly monetized and exchanged. Got cancer? Let’s see here, your policy grants you access to X amount of care, and after that, sorry, you have simply been priced out of existence. It’s not cruel or inhumane you see, it’s just a transaction. Had you simply worked harder and been worth more you might have been allowed to live. Sorry. That’s the system and the system has been proven to be correct. In fact, when you get to the pearly gates you’ll face another accounting and be assigned “eternal living quarters” based on your numbers there too. Good luck!

  5. Cortes says:

    The same points were made, I believe, by Bruce Chatwin’s very wonderful “The Songlines”. Thank you for your consistently provocative essays.

  6. the Heretick says:

    “Hurray I awake from yesterday
    Alive but the war is here to stay
    So my love catherina and me
    Decide to take our last walk thru the noise to the sea
    Not to die but to be reborn
    Away from the lands so battred and torn
    Forever forever
    Oh say can you see it’s really such A mess
    Every inch of earth is a fighting nest
    Giant pencil and lipstick-Tube shaped things
    Continue to rain and cause screamin’ pain
    And the arctic stains from silver blue to bloody red
    As our feet find the sand
    And the sea is straight ahead
    Straight up ahead
    Well it’s too bad that our friends can’t be with us today
    Well it’s too bad
    The machine that we built
    Would never save us that’s what they say
    That’s why they ain’t comin’ with us today
    And they also said it’s impossible
    For a man to live and breathe underwater
    Forever was a main complaint
    Yeah and they also threw this in my face they said
    Anyway you know good and well
    It would be beyond the will of god
    And the grace of the king
    Grace of the king
    So my darling and I make love in the sand
    To salute the last moment ever on dry land
    Our machine it has done its work played its part well
    Without A scratch on our body when we bid it farewell
    Starfish and giant foams greet us with a smile
    Before our heads go under we take our last look at the killing noise
    Of the out of style
    The out of style out of style oh yeah
    So down and down and down and down we go
    Hurry my darlin’ we mustn’t be late
    For the show
    Neptune champion games to an aqua world is so my dear
    Right this way smiles a mermaid
    I can hear Atlantis full of cheer
    Atlantis full of cheer
    I can hear Atlantis full of cheer
    Oh yeah

    Jimi Hendrix

  7. Disaffected says:

    Jimi as a young paratrooper in the 101st Air Assault Div before he made like a butterfly and morphed into something much better:

    Jimi Hendrix Army Paratrooper

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