1 is about the history and fate of the
Enlightenment not as ideology but as developmental trajectory; and
thus, not as something that can be neatly confined to the seventeenth
and eighteenth centuries. Figure 1 is about processes of
only of goods and services, but
of human beings themselves. And thus (but only
incidentally) figure 1
is about America as a
failed state, a state unable to develop its "native"
population into a workforce capable of formal operational cognitive
Figure 1 may also be about the fate of nations and the future of
"capitalism." If so, then America is not exceptional; it is a
premonition of things to come. Capitalism is in quotes to
challenge to the conventional meanings attached to the term; and even
more, a challenge to the ontological status we grant to such abstract
nouns. To see what I mean by this, go to The Keynesian Elite in the New Deal State.
But first, to the idea of America as a failed state.
It is already clear
that in the U.S. fundamentalist whites and blacks
(and many working class Catholics--hence my reference above to America
as a failed state in relation to its "native" population) have been
disgorged from the project of modernity, and now constitute a barely
literate mass, concentrated in the central cities, inner suburbs, small
towns, and the rural heartland, and removed in toto from the
possiblities of cognitive development implied by the term
"education." As the old America--Christian America--dies a
sociocultural death (see links at left to New York Times articles), it
is being replaced by newer populations capable, for now, of cognitive
development (see Intel Finalists and Asian workers now dominate Silicon
Valley tech jobs, San Jose Mercury News, 11-30-12)
Because the media performs this cognitive decline, the decay of reason
is invisible within the cognitively decaying public sphere.
can observe the rhetorical performances of talking heads through the
prism of e.g. English
Grammar for Dummies (Wiley, 2010) and spot the
decay of the logical structure of language in: subject-verb agreement
when the subject is modified by a prepositional phrase; uncertainty in
the use of prepositions (the speaker knows a preposition belongs in a
sentence but just doesn't know which one to use); the use of phrases
such as very unique,
and others where the meaning of the word being modified precludes such
quantitative modifiers; use
of terms such as over-exaggerated
(redundancies indicative of semantic dissolution); misuse of fewer and less . . .
and so on into the night of cognitive dissipation.
This rotting away of the mind can also be measured and evaluated by
deploying the resources of developmental psychology and
psychoanalysis. The objective is not to infer something
ontological (remember, we are dealing with situated organisms, not
Cartesian selves), but rather to analyze cognitive
performativity. Releveant empirico-theoretical resources are assembled
Divergence and Ressentiment
and the Mechanisms of Defense. The
latter is a plane of immanence; the former is a collection of
empirico-theoretical resources, but lacks the inner coherence
characteristic of a plane of immanence. (But Bildung: Was
a Communist, is a coherent plane of immanence, as is The Keynesan Elite
in the New Deal State, 1910 to 1937.)
1 must be placed in context. This context must be adequate to
task of covering the entire range of contemporary observable
cognitive performances. Merlin Donald, Juan Carlos
Gomez, and James R.
Flynn provide this context:
from Merlin Donald, A
Mind So Rare: The Evolution of Human Consciousness (W. W.
Norton & Company, 2001)
contains within it a trace of each of our previous stages of cognitive
evolution. It still rests on the same old primate brain
for episodic or event knowledge. But it has three additional,
uniquely human layers: a mimetic layer, an oral-linguistic layer, and
an external-symbolic layer. The minds of individuals reflect
these three ways of representing reality. (p. 262)
Merlin Donald, "The mind considered from a historical perspective:
human cognitive phylogenesis and the possibility of continuing
cognitive evolution." In D. Johnson & C. Ermeling (Eds.) The Future of the Cognitive
Revolution (Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 360-61
evident in human children before they acquire language competence. . .
continue to be important in adults, taking the form of
highly variable social customs, athletic skills, and group expressive
patterns (such as mass demonstrations of aggression or rejection).
Flynn (at the right) is referring to the concrete operational
and the formal
operational stages of cognitive development.
Formal operational competence is the sine qua non
of participation the modern economy of the third industrial revolution
(see Blinder in cell to the right). Right wing media perform
at the pre-operational level or below. Liberal media
performances are at a pre- and concrete-operational level.
Formal-operation discourse is entirely absent from all media.
Two-party System: Semiotic
planes of immanence)
Thus, in today's America we
see fundamental differences in cognitive
functioning among different historically and sociologially defined
of the population. These subgroups can be defined by the
of their cognitive-linguistic practice, including inventories of basic
expressions and rhetorical maneuvers, such as are seen in the Youtube
videos of the Palin and McCain rallies, Tea Party protests, and the
mass of political ads produced for TV, as well as newscasts
and talk show interviews. Some of these materials are
assembled in Ressentiment
Mechanisms of Defense, which brings together Nietzsche's
concept of ressentiment and the psychoanalytic concept of defense
mechanisms (Freud et. al.) and characterological positions (Klein et.
al.). The cognitive aspect of these materials is dealt with
Divergence. These two pages are essential if we are
to understand the contemporary dissapation of Mind.