April 21 2013

* pink moon

"A single advantage is worth a thousand sorceries. Short shooting looses the game. The arrow often hits the shooter."
(the Hunter)

Demonization of the enemy is the general default position of American message making against international threats. The history of warfare shows, however, that while demonization can build and maintain alliances and coalitions, and is important to maintain national unity in a protracted conflict, it can inadvertently aid the enemy's own war aims.

- Incessant, morbid portrayals of an individual, movement, or nation as a mortal enemy might rally support for the American side, but they have a shelf-life that gets tired over time. Constant specters of unrelenting dangers risk sowing defeatism and chipping away at our own morale. Abroad they risk making the U.S. look like a bully in some places and surrender the propaganda advantage tothe other side. The questions at this stage of the war are:

- Do we inadvertently aid our enemies and potential enemies by taking them too seriously?

- Does our relentless portrayal of individuals, ideologies, movements and philosophies as mortal dangers to America enhance the enemies status and prestige?

- Is it an unsound political strategy to hype the image and power of the enemy and the few leaders who personify it?

- Is there something else the United States and its allies shouldbe doing in their attempts to discredit, undermine and defeat the enemy?

- This paper argues in the affirmative. It suggests that U.S. strategy includes undermining the political and psychological strengths of adversaries and enemies by employing ridicule as a standardoperating tool of national strategy. Ridicule is an underappreciated weapon

- not only against terrorists, but against weapons proliferators, despots, and international undesirables in general.

Ridicule serves several purposes:

- Ridicule raises morale at home.
- Ridicule strips the enemy/adversary of his mystique and prestige.
- Ridicule erodes the enemy's claim to justice.

(By J. Michael Waller. International Communication)

What does it mean when someone says, get over yourself?

It is a patronising phrase used to tell someone that you believe they hold too high an opinion of themselves, or are behaving in a conceited or pompous manner. You wouldn't be seen dead in shorts? Please! Get over yourself!

Get over yourself is often said with contempt, as if we are quite certain that the person is behaving in an inferior mode.

It's what we say to someone who, from our perspective, seems too idealistic. It's a snotty way to tell someone "chill out already". sheesh, bob, GET OVER YOURSELF, yer not that great and that's why she left you for your neighbors' dog.

It is very likely that the person who patronizes you in this way is jealous of your ideal. But remember, you invited that jealousy. You invite persecution whenever you try to stand out, show off and go above and beyond other people.

"A person who is cruel will find that the others are cruel back to him, and a person who is kind will find others are kind in return. Gossip paired with reciprocity allow karma to work here on earth, not in the next life."

- Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, 2005

Dressing Down


"An especially severe, highly formalized, and often public form of military discipline incident to reduction in rank or, in extreme cases, complete dismissal via the ceremony of degradation."

"A scolding or telling-off."

"A situation characterized by unnecessarily informal or lackluster clothing. The act of dating someone noticeably less attractive and/or successful than you."

"A person (often female) is dressed down when she is wearing clothes that do not accentuate her voluptuous parts (if any)."

"Practice what you post."

"Light travels faster than sound. People often look smart, until they open their mouth."

"When we honestly examined our deepest feelings, we realized that our perception was that he was basically inadequate, somehow "behind." No matter how much we worked on our attitude and behavior, our efforts were ineffective because, despite our actions and our words, what we really communicated to him was, "You aren't capable. You have to be protected." We began to realize that if we wanted to change the situation, we first had to change ourselves. And to change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions."
(Steven Covey)

"What is evil? -- Whatever springs from weakness."



A couple of decades ago two new labels established themselves in the fruit juice (and also ice cream) market: "forest fruit" and "multivitamin." Both are associated with clearly identified flavors, but the connection between the label and what it designates is contingent. Any other combination of forest fruits would produce a different flavor, and it would be possible to generate the same flavor artificially (with the same, of course, being true for multivitamin juice). One can imagine a child who, after getting authentic homemade "forest fruit" juice, complains to his mother, "That's not what I want! I want true forest fruit juice!" Such examples distinguish the gap between what a word really means (in our case, the flavor recognized as multivitamin) and what would have been its meaning if it were to function literally (any juice that has a lot of vitamins). The autonomous "symbolic efficiency" is so strong it can occasionally generate effects that are almost uncannily mysterious."

Can we get rid of this excessive dimension and use only names that directly designate objects and processes? In 1986, Austrian writer Peter Handke wrote Repetition, a novel describing Slovenia in the drab 1960s. Handke compares an Austrian supermarket, with many brands of milk and yogurt, with a modest Slovene grocery store that has only one kind of milk, with no brand name and just the simple inscription milk. But the moment Handke mentions this brand-less packaging, its innocence is lost. Today such packaging doesn't just designate milk; it brings along a complex nostalgia for the old times when life was poor but (allegedly) more authentic, less alienated. The absence of a logo thus functions as a brand name for a lost way of life. In a living language, words never directly designate reality; they signal how we relate to that reality.

Another effort to get rid of brand names is grounded not in poverty but in extreme consumerist awareness. In August 2012 the media reported that tobacco companies in Australia would no longer be allowed to display distinctive colors, brand designs or logos on cigarette packs. In order to make smoking as unglamorous as possible, the packs would have to come in a uniformly drab shade of olive and feature graphic health warnings and images of cancer-riddled mouths, blinded eyeballs and sickly children. (A similar measure is under consideration in the European Union parliament.) This is a kind of self-cancellation of the commodity form. With no logo, no "commodity aesthetics," we are not seduced into buying the product. The package openly and graphically draws attention to the product's dangerous and harmful qualities. It provides reasons against buying it.

The anti-commodity presentation of a commodity is not a novelty. We find cultural products such as paintings and music worth buying only when we can maintain that they aren't commodities. Here the commodity-noncommodity antagonism functions in a way opposite to how it functions with logo-less cigarettes. The superego injunction is "You should be ready to pay an exorbitant price for this commodity precisely because it is much more than a mere commodity."

Slavoj Zizek, What is a Brand?