Saturday, February 16, 2008

Let's hear it for the sheep!

I think my source for this statement is Colin Wilson, but I recall reading somewhere sometime that PoW camps were made much more manageable by separating the alpha prisoners from the rest, and I also seem to recall that the figure given for these alphas was 5% of the total. The alphas are, of course, the naturally dominant leader types who - as soon as they're incarcerated - start plotting escapes and insurrections, and who generally make the lives of the prison guards hell. The remaining 95%, well they're, like, SHEEP, you know, man?

Well yes, maybe, but I'm starting to wonder where this contempt for sheep comes from: left to their own devices sheep graze contentedly, have the occasional frolic, and make baby sheep - who could be offended by that? Well, the wolves for whom the very existence of unambitious, pacific, 'take life as it comes' grass-grazers is an affront. The wolves, of course, are the alphas, the sheep are the rest of humanity, and 'the rest' are treated with such universal disdain, even - after having been successfully brainwashed by the wolves - by their own kind, that it takes an effort of will to see that they might have their virtues.

Some wolves, of course, are well-intentioned towards the sheep, but it has to be said that, whatever their intentions, 99% of human woes are their responsibility. Who starts the wars, without which there would be no PoW camps? Wolves, not sheep. Who owns the businesses which rape and pollute the environment? Wolves, not sheep. Whose political decisions consign some to poverty and some to death? Wolves, not sheep. Sheep have never been allowed to express a single unmanipulated opinion in the entire history of the human species but - if that incredible thing were allowed to happen - it would probably be something along the lines of "we're just fine, so leave us alone".

A world ruled by sheep would be calm, slow and peaceful - a lazy, tranquil paradise, in fact. I would probably need to be kept in a continuous state of artificial sedation in order not to go insane from boredom - a fact which probably shows me to be a wolf myself, or at least a super-sheep - but it has to be said that it would be infinitely preferable to the brutal, bloody chaos that we live in right now. It's never going to happen, of course - the wolves wouldn't allow it.

Is there anything that wolves might profitably learn from sheep? Yes, humility. Will they? What do you think?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Baseball And Weltanschauung

There is a discussion that you can find at ARCHN that has been occupying my thoughts somewhat. The link to it is here.

To cut a not very long story even shorter, a point I thought I was making about the way the contents of our minds 'colour' our perceptions of the world was met with a response about statistical modelling of baseball, a post whose relevance I understand about as well as I understand the game itself (if you're interested, in terms of sporting endeavour that would be more than I understand cricket but less than I understand kinky sex). This is the second time a post I've made in that forum has been - as far as I can see - misapprehended, and it's around now that the fear starts to seep in around the edges of my consciousness.

The question is - as the question always is when there seems to be a disjunction between myself and the world - am I becoming ill again? The problem is that you can never tell: mental illness is a sneaky bugger and, contrary to the opinion of an ex of mine (an academic psychologist to boot!), there is no miraculously untouched core of the psyche which sits through the process whispering "you're behaving a little oddly, mate, I think you should chill out and think about getting some help" into your mental ears. I tell you, anyone who invents a brainwave reader with a display that will inform you precisely where you lie on the line from immaculate sanity to "hide the rabbits" is going to make a killing!

But I'm in danger of disappearing up my own anus here (never as much fun as disappearing up someone else's!), so I'll try and wrench this back to ARCHN, and why I don't think I'll be doing more than just browsing the contents there in future. Well, firstly I think I'm too thick to participate actively in the discussions, which is not exactly a welcome conclusion but what can you do? Secondly, and possibly more importantly as far as my own interests are concerned, there is nothing in Objectivism for me, nothing that can help me and much that - potentially at least - can make my lot even worse, but however justified my paranoid wailings turn out to be it's not fair to inflict them on anyone else. And, thirdly, there is the dread prospect that at some point soon all of my mental energy may be devoted to trying to summon the willpower get out of bed in the mornings.

A final word: the sense of humour goes last, and when it does go, you're in deep shit.