2017 is rich with events that expose the complex connections between law, politics, economics, religion and culture. These events will set the course for 2018, even as new actors seek to take manage people, events, states, enterprises and other institutions with substantial consequential effects of the mass. But most of all 2017 was the year of big data, of social credit, and of the realization that the algorithmic institution (state or otherwise) might well replace the regulatory state as the driving force for the management of people, institutions and behaviors. Where once the regulatory state was said to express the will of the people refined through their representatives in government, currently the algorithmic enterprise can be said to build systems for managing people and institutions from the data it harvests from them applied to metrics that both reflect their desires and directs it toward certain ends. But this was also the year of statues, of mass violence and of surprising revelations that both marked and drove significant cultural change.
With no objective in particular, this post and a number that follow provides my summary of the slice of 2017 to which I paid attention through epigrams and aphorisms. It follows an end of year tradition I started in 2016 (for those see here).
This is Part 4. Share your own! This post includes the contributions of Flora Sapio.
Ruminations 77: 2017 in Epigrams and Aphorisms
8. Ranking is everything and everywhere; it requires only union with data to produce hierarchy, and through hierarchy, governance. [the example of the education industry, A conversation about class and the professoriate (essay)]
9. The best measure of the transformation of a culture is to take stock of its relationship to its literary past and the way it portrays even its history and content; a culture that reworks its own history prefers to satisfy its fantasies about the present by forcing the construction of illusions about its past. ["One of the most heavily censored texts of the English literary canon, Fanny Hill has been removed completely from the course “The Age of Oppositions, 1660-1780”, which examines libertine literature." University drops world's oldest erotic novel written in English from curriculum]
12. At their edges, left and right tend converge around the "Jewish Question"; that it seems has not changed much since European Emancipation. [Soros Slander Reveals Anti-Semitism at the Heart of the Far Right]
13. Institutions have no humanity to forfeit; it is understood that institutions feel no hunger, and are incapable of compassion; when humans pretend they are their instruments on earth--concrete avatars of institutions--they also forfeit their humanity though they retain their human form. ["A school lunch costs around $2.35. When a kid doesn't have enough money, many schools require cafeteria workers to take a kid's tray of hot food away and throw it in the trash. Children are then handed a cold cheese sandwich -- or they are forced to go hungry with no food at all. In some cases, penniless kids are even forced to wear stamps, stickers or wristbands that mark them having unpaid lunch debt." 'No one believes we do this to kids': Will Congress end school lunch shaming?]
And From Flora Sapio:
1. Better be a spectator, than an actor in a comedy someone else has authored for you.
2. There are all kinds of slaves. Their agreement to their own condition is often signaled by the amount and variety of clothing their masters allot to them.
3. Authority, moral and otherwise, is earned by working towards the elevation of others to the same level as oneself here and now. Not in some unknowable and ethereal realm, and without denying the good things life has to offer. Everything else is a thinly disguised attempt at materially benefiting oneself, often in the absence of any real need to have more than what one already has.
4. Luke 16:29 says “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them...” No other voice is necessary. Who could be greater than Moses and the Prophets?
5. Matthew 7:6 teaches us that when one throws pearls to swine, the swine, once they got the pearls, will first trample them, and then turn on the character in the parable. So never keep a swine as your pet - eat them instead, if you eat meat. They make an excellent prosciutto.
6. Listen to those who practice moderation, beware of those who preach deprivation.