Life imitates art imitating life, informed by forms assembled in response to mythic heroes, petty childhood taunts. An empty canvas duels a palette knife; keys under fingers grapple, twist and slip. A thought - the ball in play that arcs to earth, the soap dropped in the bath - well, is it worth the crush of bodies or the long, cold drip? Yet long before they tell you where the zone lies at the end of long green fields, you know the screen, the cloudy waters are a veil dividing you from what you've always known: that victory is not a place you go but what stays locked inside you if you fail.

Brainwashing 101

Brainwashing 101 (Yesterday I got into an interesting debate on Twitter around the notion of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at government meetings. My assertion was that the flag and the pledge are, to a certain extent, arbitrary symbols. They stand for America, but the sense in which they do so is highly individual. Do they stand for America as we currently are? the whole sum of our history? or the idealized dream of what I hope for us to be? The effect is different based on an individual's understanding. My esteemed fellow ponderer insisted that any rote recitation is, primarily and inescapably, an instrument used to reinforce unthinking obedience to authority. As such, they argued that mandatory recitation was archaic and a form of brainwashing. That particular discussion is over, but it inspired me today to describe in detail what brainwashing entails, as I understand it, in case I ever find myself in another situation where I wish to clarify the point.) Brainwashing (dictionary definition: is systematically manipulating someone to change their attitudes and beliefs. Torture can be part of it, especially when gov'ts or terrorist groups brainwash, but I'm expressly not including torture in the following comments as I don't know anything meaningful about its use. Before brainwashing as such can take effect it's necessary to lay a foundation of distrust in own judgments & punishment for wrong thought. Punishment for wrong thought must be reflexive, self-inflicted, tied to whatever is most precious: affection, sense of belonging, self-love. Once belief that "my disagreement w authority X is my filth & unworth as a being" is really, truly solid, then brainwashing begins in earnest. Each individual dwells inside their own personality. Can touch, and potentially alter, any system. Systems must be anchored or erode in time. That is why self-condemnation must come first, to create a protective shell of fear and loathing around systems which brainwashing will install. Similarly, the acquisition of new knowledge must be hedged with protective rejection reflexes. Natural fear of anything strange exaggerated. Everything flows to this anchor: reject and condemn self. Elevate authority X. Not over self but over other loves, other sources of identity. Identity rests in self but actually isn't sourced there. The need to have permission of authority for self-judgments and new perceptions to be valid comes first. Directly founded upon this, love must be constrained. The fountainhead of all motivation is love; the more you love, the more your identity has power. Love powers the personality as sunlight powers the growth of plants. Thus all love must route through authority, to concentrate that power. Not that all love must be directed towards authority- this limits perception to the point where daily functionality is compromised and tends to increase the likelihood of counterproductive and/or self-destructive behavior. But authority must condone all emotion, especially affection or approval- the motive for these experiences must factually originate within the self, but self cannot be perceived as their source. No valid perceptions, judgments, actions or experiences can originate in self. Authority must confer validity and worth after the fact. If this validation is withheld, the experience of individual identity can be largely negated. Authority stands ever between self and the world. Without at least an abstract sense of authority's approval, to enjoy a sunset, choose a soda flavor, (yikes!) read a book should terrify. The universe is inherently, aggressively hostile. However this hostility is justified. Self is 100% blameworthy, unless authority intervenes. Once this sense of an inimical universe lightly held at bay by authority's whim is solid, the other can be defined. The other is optional, but the fear and self-disgust which hide authority's control of decision-making from any conscious examination should be projected outward. Ideally equating "punishment for wrong thought" with the other is so deeply ingrained that the worthlessness of self ceases to be perceived. This second, outer layer of emotional pain reiterates and mirrors the inner, functional foundation of self-rejection. It further protects authority's control from examination. Externalizing hate and wrongness onto the other provides partial, symptomatic relief from the painful experience of self-rejection. The destruction of the image of the other, and the myth of the other as the source of unworthiness, would result in self experiencing the full weight of that continuous inner negation and will thus be avoided. To recap: 1. self worthless, authority confers worth 2. new data bad 3. no unauthorized love 4. universe hostile 5. project self-hate onto other When these systems are properly installed the personality will perceive them to be self-generated. All personality systems must be perceived as self-generated or else their function will be compromised. Once they are firmly in place, commands can be given. Because internal systems of authority control are presented as originating in self, commands designed for compatibility with this will have greatest effect. Commands packaged as enticements, as suggestions, as mock "problems" which can be easily solved by routing emotion and decision-making through the control systems are likely to be effective. Use simple, incomplete patterns. The mind's ability to see & complete patterns is largely pre-conscious: consciousness is only activated after. This is desirable. Under all circumstances minimize, deride, punish and disincentivize conscious thought.