Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Critical Literacy is Narrative Literacy

(Admin: Due to a death in the family, and therefore a funeral today, I am posting this entry early.)

I find it interesting that the emerging necessity in literacy is not, as is so often said, the literacy of programming- not in the form of writing and compiling applications to use in computer systems of various sorts. Instead, the necessary literacy is something that computer programming is only tangentially related to mastering: the literacy of narrative.

In other words, put down the C++ manual and go pick up Propaganda.

At this time, what we have is a very mature mastery of what narrative is and how to seize control over and manipulate the narratives of others. It is this literacy that I find, as a historian, to be both the issue and the solution to the problem in all sorts of societies and communities. This literacy is how systems of objective inquiry into how the physical world works can be, has been, and continues to be subborned to serve the ends of Empire. Far beyond such aphorisms as "Follow the Money", narrative literacy is the means by which resilient illusions and phantasms--built by way of application of discoveries regarding the brain, the mind, and how they work--can be made and maintained over generations, even centuries.

It is not merely the control over the flow of information. It is control over the presentation of information--who gets it, what do they get, when do they get it, where do they get it, how, and why--and control over the development of the skillset necessary to properly process information and produce true, faithful, and accurate conclusions that one can act upon. In other words, this is the shit that the Spook Sector has been about since intrigue began. Between 1984 and Brave New World, the multiple layers of this form of control become easier to see and thus to detect. If you can't conceive of a thing, then you can't comprehend it and thus act upon it, and Empire can prey upon you with ease; to quote Charles Baudelaire, "The finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist". Narrative illiteracy, first and foremost, is the means by which said trick is made possible.

It is not enough to blithely accept some expert--no matter how esteemed--even if they speak within their known expertise. You must know who that expert is, whom they are tied to (and, if so, how), and if they have any history of questionable actions that would cast suspicion on the current claims. If you hear things by a third party, such as a news outlet, then you need to know them also- both the individuals doing the talking as well as the institutional relations of that outlet. (This is why even the appearance of impropriety is enough, in honest operations, to cause fallout up and including the liquidation of the offender(s) depending upon the severity of the offense.) Narrative literacy allows the individual to operate, as President Reagan is famous for saying, under the policy of "Trust, but Verify" because it takes the foundation of the Trivium and specializes it to permit the inquiry into such things in an efficient and effective manner: you know who to approach, what to say, when to say it, where to do it, how to do it, and through that process answer the vital question of "Why did they do or say what they said/did when/where/and how they did."

Why is this necessary? Because control over the narrative is very much a real and effective form of mind control, in that it is control over what is considered accepted and acceptable to think--it is opinion control, social control--because once a taste-maker decides what is or is not okay the forces of social conformity spin up and go into action. People are not hired, promoted, associated with, etc. for fear of themselves being ostracized in turn; real effects manifest over the opinion of another's opinion, effects that can lead to someone's death by means of deprivation because his access to resources is cut off by those with power over that access. Compare the careers of those who expose corruption within a given law enforcement agency or intelligence agency vs. those who contribute to covering them up; it is not just the whistleblowers who feel the blacklash, or their families, but everyone who makes any significant attempt to contravene the preferred opinion--the narrative--about that institution in the population at-large.

So, when you see someone post (or, more likely, repost) a claim that "it's over because we've got the pics/video/etc." you would be wise to not take that claim at face value. Thanks to the combination of nigh-ubiquitous Internet access in the First World (and increasing access worldwide), plenty of cheap communications technologies decentralizing the ability to communicate effectively and efficiently, and the increasing savvy of a young adult generation as to the technical aspect regarding information manipulation (which is the gateway to mastering the other sorts), what seems like an honest claim today can--and, increasingly, will if it's bullshit--be exposed as a false claim intended to shape the narrative in someone's preferred direction. (e.g. the analysis of the two recent ISIS beheadings by independent individuals)

"What's the story here?" is a good question to keep on hand now. Questioning the narrative imparted by a piece aids greatly in avoiding errors, and it is liberating your own narrative from those who would wield it against you that you become able to free yourself from Empire- and thus be your own savior, making Empire fall.

No comments:

Post a Comment