Thursday, July 18, 2013

PR and Linearity

PR, Gods, and Men….
PR has its gods. They wear nice suits and have pretty secretaries and big offices, close to Heaven on the top floor. And they tell ordinary people – simple mortals – that they are all powerful—that they can make anything happen, which is to say, they can sell anything.  In a universe where everything is a commodity,  PR Man is the Prime Mover.

We believe PR Man because He tells us we must believe;  magicians, hypnotists, or prophets -- a little faith goes a long way. Or, maybe it just is,  as someone once said – we want "hope you can believe in."
Of course, when things don’t go as they should, when our hopes are dashed,   PR has its excuses – just like religion.:  "Free Will" –'the “market” "changed its mind' – "the Plan behind the Plan" beyond your merely mortal comprehension. Then, there is, "We thought this might happen so we have a Plan B”. Pray that PR does not fail because you will end up paying more. Plan B is always expensive.

Bottom line: the PR people are going to keep on making money, exploiting your need to believe that things don’t just happen – they can be made to happen .

PR people are social creationists.  And they care.  Particularly about baby dinosaurs, which become big monsters like Verizon and Citibank and Goldman Sachs.

PR Man doesn’t want you to believe in accidents, in random mutation and survival of the fittest – or mindless adaptation—or your own power. You don’t want to believe in such things either –it’s simply not comfortable – especially that last thing, personal power, which would demand some degree of responsibility. We hate chaos, randomness.  We all want to trust “Design”.  We may be puppets -- but remember, a puppet's strings support him.

The human mind is set up to see patterns and to look for causation. We want to know what is happening and why – at all times. In nature--or in any high threat situation-- this capability offers obvious advantages – survival.  So, simple is better. PR “makes” the public mind, yours and mine; it sets up simple heuristics to guide our actions -- all against in the context of a basic sets of “facts”.

Human beings want cognitive linearity.  One thing happens and then there is a consequence, more or less in proportion to the first thing. A, B, C….one, two, three….  You hit me. I hit you. Why did I hit you? Because you hit me.  And why did you do that?  You’re an asshole—that’s why – who cares about the details.  I don’t really care about truth – only consistency.

Linearity of this kind reduces things to simple denominators, straight lines, singular dimensionality. It ignores that in nature complex events are often  interconnected with thousands of others, in what I will call a  non-linear, multidimensional cognitive matrix.

Unfortunately, the universe doesn’t give a damn about our needs.  A butterfly flaps its wings in central Africa. An empire falls.   A million die.  And you are born.   Or not….

A bunch of guys with box cutters take over some airliners and destroy the world’s tallest buildings which prompts illegal wars against two countries that had nothing to do with it. A million lives (or more) are lost . The world’s most powerful democracy lurches towards totalitarianism. The global economy reels.  And airports spread fungeal infections as people take off their shoes.

Life is complicated.  Our our simple hunter and gatherer brains grasp non-linearity – and recoil.    We just want to eat, play, fuck, sleep.  Anything more complicated than one..two…three..four… is an Act of God,  a kind of theological conspiracy by a Force beyond our control. Forget the Koch brothers – God screwed you over. The buck stops at the Big Man’s desk.

Human beings want comfort and convenience. But occasionally they wake to an apocalyptic vision like Neo did in the Matrix.    Most of us just pull the covers over our heads and go back to sleep, shutting out the cacaphony of chaos.

Now, you probably sneer at people like the “Truthers” and the Alex Jones crowd, with their conspiracy theories.   9/11 was a CIA-Mossad plot, a ‘False Flag’ Exercise?  Isn’t that absurdly non-linear?  Wheels within wheels?  LOL!   Actually no – a Truther theory is beautifully linear – and rather simple devolving from some basic facts:

A.) Conspiracies do happen!  
B.)  Governments always lie and cover things up. 
C.) You’re powerless to do anything

One…two….three….. Was the CIA  behind the Twin Towers catastrophe? OK, OK…so Popular Mechanics has decisively rebutted all the technical evidence that 9/11 conspiracists cite.  That doesn’t shake the faith of believers at all….. Because “linear” thinking is not based on logic but rather on a need to believe – above all,on a need to see order.

Right, you say, I’m not like that.

Really?   In PR – also propaganda and advertising--this need to believe, this hankering for order  is our bread and butter.    And the fact that you can put down the Truthers so conveniently, so easily, shows we have done our job well. Did you actually read the Popular Mechanics’ rebuttals? No?  You didn’t because you just accepted the conventional explanation for 9/11.

Conventional 9/11 wisdom relies on a bigger, better, grander conspiracy theory.    Sorry, Alex Jones – you get second prize.

When 9/11 happened, the Bush Government – with the help of people like me – came up with a linear conspiracy theory which really makes the Truther’s ideas small, if not microscopic potatoes.  And a majority of Americans went with it – and still do.  If you believe in the “War on Terror” – to any extent --you bought into this theory. If you accept that the Homeland Security, the TSA, PRISM, FISA courts, the Patriot Act, and over 600 military bases overseas are necessary, you are also buying into the theory.

 Back in November, while a group of heavily armed service men and women were going through security, the TSA swooped in on the deadliest weapon of all. Not the rifles or high-powered pistols they were carrying, oh no. It was their nail clippers that got confiscated.

Even before the TSA went on their power kick, they were pretty unforgiving. In 2008, a woman was forced to remove her nipple rings in a Dallas airport. She was told she could not board until she removed them, so she was taken behind a curtain and managed to remove one bar-shaped piercing but had trouble with the second, a ring. Crying, she said she couldn't remove it without pliers, which the male attendants quickly provided as they snickered at her situation.

 The Bush Government did not want to accept that the 9/11 plotters were just a small bunch of Egyptian and Saudi crazies with the boxcutters who got luck because the people charged with catching them were a vast bureaucracy of mentally challenged people.  Ordinary people are powerless, right?    Instead, the Twin Towers were brought low by   a huge, international conspiracy -- masterminded by a collection of evil geniuses .  There was Osamu Bin Laden, the one-eyed mullah in the Taliban, and Saddam Hussein – for starters, .  These people were all agents of  “Terror”.  And behind them were mobs of swarthy, psychopathic killers who hate us for our I-Phones.

Defeating such Evil required full-scale war, which would be neverending because we would could never win – only maintain a kind of lethal balance by giving up our civil liberties,  killing people indiscriminately, and taking our nail clippers and nipple rings..  The model was Paradise Lost – but a Hollywood remake so…  Satan – get another job – casting has determined you are soooooooo ‘retro’.

Two illegal wars and a million or two deaths later, with chunks of the Middle East rendered radioactive and lots of two-headed babies,  the Obama Government recapitulated the conspiracy.  The “Surge” moved to Afghanistan, we murdered kids with robots, and force-fed Afghan taxi drivers because we did not want to admit they were not terrorists.  We chased down whistleblowers and began spying on …well… everyone … millions, maybe billions…because the Enemy, the Evil…was …everywhere.

Of course, this cost a lot of money.   Conspiracy stuff like this is a huge money maker for the zombie corporations that feed off the body public..  

 So, who’s crazier.  The “Truthers”? Or the average American?

I’m not much into conspiracy theories.  But I think I would rather go with Alex  Jones.  His version is at least less pernicious. A witch-hunt at the CIA would have been a lot better than drone bombing Yemen.  And it probably would have saved a lot of tax dollars.

Oh, if only the “Truthers” version of events had prevailed—you might still have a democracy.

  Alex Jones and his ilk are crazy -- just they really might have a point!

 Then again, in a different world,  I would be out of a job.

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