Decoding Your Semantic Environment
This one's huge enough to be more fit for a book than an lj entry, and it's about more than semantics, or even the hypnotic techniques used to control the public mind; ultimately it's about power relations, the collisions of mental energy which make up reality, and on and on. When I first started to tug at this last night (in our last post), I didn't know where to begin...but here, anyway, is a little more (now that we know for sure that practically nobody's reading it anyway ;) ). I wrote:
<< Those who understand how things actually work are operating on a different plane entirely. That this insight has nothing to do with whether they're decent people or not, makes me want to see a lot more decent people understanding how things actually work. >>
So what the hey -- let's drop some hints. For those who thought John Carpenter's wonderful film They Live (based on Ray Faraday Nelson's equally wonderful short story "Eight O'Clock in the Morning") was merely a parable...well, here (off the top of my head, in no particular order) are some concrete examples of thought control through semantic manipulation that anyone can understand -- once they're pointed out. It's too easy to do this from the screeds of left and right; let's take the subtler example of the "mainstream" (or even "liberal"*) cable news channels. Here come the Magick Words:
"The Blame Game." Translation: Don't think too hard about the underlying issues here; just assume there aren't any. "Partisan wrangling" serves the same function, as does calling a controversy a "flap." All three semantically diminish a topic of debate to a small, passing, insignificant discussion of no real importance. If what's being discussed really is small or insignificant, these terms -- while loaded -- might be appropriate. The next time you see these terms used, make a note of what issues are being discussed. Are the issues really small or insignificant?
"Tragedies." A tragedy is something unavoidable -- sad, even awful, but about which nothing could have been done. The next time you see an event called a "tragedy," ask yourself whether it was, in fact, unavoidable. Similar usages: "Fate" (because who can avoid Fate?), a place or situation described as "Bloody" (as in, it's only natural to see violence here: it's inherent in the place or situation). When people are killed, note also whether they're (say) "Victims," or only the accidental inhabitants of "Targets" ("Targets," of course, being objects designed to be shot at or bombed). Then too, the phrase "Violence in" (a given location) conceals -- or seems to distribute to all parties equally -- the source of the violence.
Predictive Polling. This is a rather new one (on me, anyway), and deucedly clever. Remember when polling was always opinion polling? -- i.e., meant to determine where respondents stood on an issue, what their preferences were? Next time you're asked to respond to a cable news poll, see whether they're calling for opinions, or for predictions; whether, that is, they're asking for your preference, or for a display of precognitive ability. "What do you think will happen?" on issue X is not an opinion poll at all; in fact (if, say, 80% of respondents think Something Horrible will happen) it can help condition you to accept Something Horrible -- which is far from your own preference -- as sort of inevitable (hey, with an 80% chance!).
The list is well-nigh endless...and I haven't even touched on the strategies of politicians themselves -- say, conditioned denials ("We absolutely did not sell five hundred pages of atomic secrets to the Russians last Tuesday at 2:15pm" is still true if it happened at 2:17pm, or Monday, or it was 473 pages), non-denial denials (the story is "absurd," "full of [unspecified] errors," and "relies on anonymous sources" -- yeah, okay, but is it largely true?), weasel words (our actions were "consistent with" some law or standard, rather than "obeyed" it), or such old standbys as "constructive engagement" (when you want to justify dealings with a tyrant) versus "need for sanctions" (when you don't), or the historical memory hole (how did tyrant X get those awful weapons he killed all those poor people with in the first place, anyway?). I wanted to focus here on how a knowledge of semantics arms you to unpuzzle what you're being told by the media themselves.
Finally, I leave you with a Magick Spell of your own: when watching media reports, ask yourself, "Why are they telling me this?" You may be surprised how this will enhance your precognitive abilities. :D
93 93/93 -- AJ
* The notion of a "liberal" media would make a whole separate post. In brief: most reporters are liberal; most owners of media are not (cf. the California gubernatorial recall, where the California Association of Broadcasters, knowing their chosen boy would never survive a debate without having the questions in advance, gave out the questions in advance). The perception that the media are liberal is very useful: it sets the allowable outward boundary of debate. And of course, from the standpoint of (say) right-wing talk radio, anything other than wildly enthusiastic agreement with their point of view qualifies as a "partisan bias."