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IN THIS HOUSE, WE INTERROGATE PROPAGANDA...
Meat-World Memes Torture Stray Cats
Of all the fevers that plague postmodern America, “virtuous house” decorations might be the most nauseating. These 3-D memes typically arrive in the form of hideous flags and signs, advertising their owners’ tribal shibboleths to any poor sap who wanders by.
Their core design ethic (if it can be called that) favors rainbow-flavored slogans rendered over jet black backgrounds. The text of the slogans themselves is so flat and soul-deadening, it makes “Think Coexist” bumper stickers read like poems by Emerson or Thoreau. If imagery is included, it’s of the lowest caliber imaginable, neither abstract enough to evoke mathematical truths nor realistic enough to glorify the forms of Nature or mankind. Their standard of beauty lies somewhere between “child’s refrigerator drawing” and “art therapy at the psyche ward.”
Not only are these candy-coated funerary gewgaws ugly from an artistic standpoint, they manage to convert yet another civilian space into an cultural warzone. This ain’t your grandpa’s meme war either; it’s as if they can’t help but advertise their moral and intellectual vapidity, like bragging about how they flunked every class in high school.
The etymology of the word “slogan” offers several possible derivations. My favorite of these is the Celtic “sluagh-ghairm” or “battle cry of the dead.” Not only does this origin offer explanatory power in its own time of blood libels and warrior cults, but I think it perfectly explains our modern usage of the word. In a society that’s almost perpetually at war on multiple fronts, it makes sense that our environment would be suffused with ghostly war jingo.
This is particularly the case for the armies of the Woke, who are haunted by ghosts of both the historical and the hallucinatory kinds. Like all battle cries, their ghostly lyrics are as simplistic as they are vengefully hostile. And like all vaporous forms, ghosts seem immune to all the normal rules of reality, including those of rational debate. To argue against a ghost is to cut fog with a sword.
For example, if we don our magic sunglasses, the “In this house” slogans above translate roughly to:
Composition Fallacy/ Synecdoche
Equivocation Fallacy/ Appeal to Authority
Argumentum Ad Ignorantiam
Composition Fallacy/ Synecdoche
Why are woke slogans all so stupid? What gives?
Towards the end of a moving piece by the brilliant Celia Farber, she made what I thought was the most efficient calculation of the Woke phenomenon I’ve heard to date:
I suddenly realized that it was the same thing Richard objected so fiercely to in the story of money, and what I have railed against in “HIV-AIDS.” When I say the same “thing” I mean the same spirit.
And what spirit is that?
Debt. In German, and Swedish, the word for “debt” and the word for “guilt” are the same word: Skuld.
“Woke” is (to me, to my soul’s understanding) a political and corporate mega-trap that ensures eternal debt.
Nobody ever gets out of debt, to it. Why?
Because it must live, and to live, it must eat;
And what does it eat?
It eats your supposed badness as it dictates said badness to you by way of global corporations and media berating you, (us) in a never ending cacophony of standardized, mass produced accusations.
In their childish way, the war banners of the Woke scream “debt” of the most unforgivable and insatiable kind. Unforgiveable, because we cannot possibly atone for sins committed by others (and particularly if those sinners are long dead). Insatiable, because the curse of evil spirits is that they lack the wider perspective and humility required for fulfillment. Hostile egregores are natural bingers of people and goods. Their hunger is so vast that they’ll eventually swallow their own human servants, then each other, then finally — in true ouroboric, snakelike fashion — themselves, as the economic and political systems which empower them crumble to dust.
I have thoughts about the metaphysical side of that equation. But for now, let’s focus on the servants themselves, and in particular those who spruce up their lairs with corporatized meat-space memes.
Similar to the egregores they service, the appetites of the Woke are impossible to sate. For example: try to imagine a policy of “slavery reparations” in which the aggrieved Wokies will deem the matter forever closed, declare that all wounds are now healed and all ancestral crimes forgiven. I’d argue such bounded finality is anathema to them; grievance is their Diet Pepsi version of spiritual nourishment, the taste of which gives their lives meaning and purpose. That’s why their goalposts and rationales are always on the move. Each problem solved is a meal forever skipped.
That’s also why their propaganda sucks. Like all species of virtue signaler, the Woke never fail to sabotage their own memetic weapons. I’d bet the farm that the sight of their lame propaganda signage has never once changed an opinion about the social dilemmas they imply. At most, they could only harden existing opinions, and almost certainly against the Woke themselves. That’s because a house decked out in this fashion blasts out a signal, all right, but it isn’t one of “virtue.”
In the best case scenario, what Woke ornaments advertise is how easily the decorators can be emotionally manipulated by agitprop, and/or their fears of losing social status if they don’t join the chorus. I think that’s a big reason you rarely see these kinds of banners flown in isolation: Woke vandalism is a team sport.
In the worst case scenario, these kinds of decorations vocalize the spite of our society’s most sanctimonious and narrow-minded scolds. I imagine every human age has had to endure some version of these smug cretins, whose favorite pastime is to sit in righteous judgment of the Great Unwashed. These are your your navel-gazers, your fart-sniffers, those annoying pricks who can’t go five minutes without berating the evil “Trumpsters,” or some other bugbear who’s currently squatting rent-free in their heads. In their most virulent forms, they become our Torquemadas and Robespierres, twisting morality and the Law into weapons of selective persecution and sadistic punishment.
No matter the source or form, I have noticed that “virtuous homeowners“ tend to congregate in geographic clusters, and that wealth appears to be their most common trait. Much of this has to do with the way businesses pair with their most likely consumers over time; people who want to shop and dine a certain way (and at a certain price point) also tend to think and speak a certain way. It’s not all status games and hivemind hoodoo; some sorting processes can be described using fairly straightforward incentive structures.
On the other hand, there also appears to be significant overlap with the skuld model of wokeness that Farber proposed. One way to look at it is as the latest version of “white guilt,” turbocharged by the ongoing disintegration of the middle class.
For example: I passed through a ritzy neighborhood the other day that looked like Rainbow Brite took a shit on a closet full of Nazgul cloaks. This Woketopia was obviously a wealthy, white-collar enclave, its large and gorgeous homes ensconced in bucolic foliage and professionally landscaped lawns. I’ve never lived in a place like that, and had it not been for all the ghost-war paraphernalia hung about I would have called it strikingly beautiful. But behind closed doors, I reckoned there was a helluva lotta skuld going on.
When I looked up the going rates later that day, I wasn’t surprised to see these properties going for nearly $400/sq ft. For that kind of cheddar, you’d figure they could hire an artist to cook up some flags that don’t look like something their colorblind six-year-old brought home from fingerpainting class.
I’ve passed through similar neighborhoods in recent years, and whenever I do, I get the eerie feeling these kinds of decorations are more akin to medieval talismans, like garlic wreaths posted to ward off vampires. They evoke the subtle terror I’d guess some German shopkeepers must have felt when they flew Nazi flags to keep stormtroopers and other door-kickers at bay. But unlike those Germans, I don’t believe these upscale Wokies are fully aware of what they’re doing.
Consider the rhetorical sinecure of “Black Lives Matter,” by far the most ubiquitous sluagh-ghairm in Rainbow Brite’s ‘hood. From the first time I read it, I smelled a whole sewer full of rats. For one thing, it was the answer to a question that wasn’t being asked (“Do black lives matter?”). For another, it was an accusation thinly disguised as an ethic (which is something you might conclude about all the Woke’s favorite slogans).
Not only is “BLM” an accusation, but it’s a strident and unfalsifiable one. The implication is that vast numbers of Americans exist who place no value whatsoever on the lives of people with darker complexions. The lives of these people “don’t matter,” which is a value standard that’s hard to apply even to inanimate objects like lamps and nightstands. The implication is that white Americans in the 21st century are even worse than the slave-owners of the 19th, who at the very least placed a monetary value on “black lives.” If you are a white person (or a sufficiently heretical black one), BLM is pretty much directly accusing you of being a monster.
Without a system of bedrock, generalist principles to guide them, the Woke become factories of hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance. As with all cults, contrary evidence is either ignored or re-purposed to suit their shattered funhouse mirror models of reality. If BLM leader Patrice Cuillors is convincingly accused of graft, the accusation shifts to, “Why do you hate it when black people get rich?” If a black man is assaulted for saying “All lives matter,” or a white woman fired for implying the same, it must be because they were crypto-racists who richly deserved their comeuppances.
Okay, let’s go there.
At the risk of vilifying those who so casually vilify us, I think it’s likely this is what the Woke decorators are actually signaling, beneath all their Skittles-flavored masks of virtue. It’s possible they’re the precise species of congenital racists they claim to abhor, who harbor a generalized fear, scorn and disgust of “the black race” in the ugliest corners of their minds.
Fortunately, they appear to dislike this flaw in themselves (or, at the very least are unnerved by it). Unfortunately they also use this flaw to model other minds. After all, if “good people” like themselves commit such thought crimes, what sinister thoughts must their political enemies be having? In this light, their slogans become projection-as-confession, and the invisible structures of racism and sexism they see everywhere manifestations of their unending skuld: equal parts accurate self-reporting and penance.
But “congenital’ means exactly that. Like the guilt that fuels their battle cries, the Woke’s projected bigotry isn’t born of reason. It’s reflexive, instinctive, an artifact of genetic selfishness gone wild. The glimpse of this may horrify them, sure. But some ghosts are insanely hard to bust.
I looked at the maps.
There were poor, majority-black neighborhoods within easy reach of Rainbow Brite’s progressive wonderland. Some just a couple of train stops away.
Better to hang that flag than be hanged under it, eh, Fritz?
After all, deep down you know what those people are capable of.
Is that a fair accusation?
Do I care?
No, because I’m fighting ghosts who accuse me of being a monster.
Anyway, unless you live in Roberts County, Texas or outer space, you’ve almost certainly run across one of these ghostly war banners. But even in those exotic locales, you might’ve spotted a few snarky, meat-space memeposts that try to parody them.
While often disguised as jokes, these nevertheless serve the same virtue-signaling function (and due to their rainbow aesthetic, remain a crime against art). In a way, these counterpunching displays are even more damaging. By literally flying the enemy’s colors on your front porch, you only reify the obscene principle at the heart of the Woke’s campaign:
Propaganda is more important than beauty.
I’m certain there exist “purple” districts that feature both versions of this pollution. If we were to draw analogs to real battlefields, these neighborhoods would be the godforsaken trenches of WW1, reeking of gangrene and mustard gas. I wouldn’t even want to walk my dog through such a cesspool of political graffiti.
Memes in the online space are important weapons. Memes in meat-space are atrocities in the war against beauty. Instead of using your home to signify tribal allegiance, consider turning it into an object of beauty instead.
If possible, load your yard up with topiary and bonsai trees. Stick a marble birdbath out there, or a Japanese koi pond. Install Tuscan columns, or neoclassical statues, or an elaborate fountain that features mermaids luring sailors to their doom. Add a wicker reenactment of the Titanomachy, or a gazebo made in a fairytale style.
Or, if you’re like me and can’t afford any of that bullshit, just try keep your lawn neatly trimmed, and maybe plant some nice-looking flora or a vegetable garden. If you’re creative and crafty, maybe you can embellish it with distinctive art projects, or cool pottery and other weather-resistant curios. These decorations should reveal angles of your unique and beautiful soul, presented more as offerings to God than to the Joneses.
If you don’t have a lawn, sweep the sidewalk in front of your building, as my block-captain grandmother used to do when I was young. Hang nice drapes in your windows, and throw a fresh coat of paint on their frames from time-to-time.
Or do nothing. Go full-on “Grey Gardens” if you must.
“Nothing” is perfectly acceptable, if the alternative is the vandalism of virtue.
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