The Fatal Loop of Recursivity
The Fatal Loop of Recursivity by James Howard Kunstler
Here’s one big reason that America is driving itself batshit crazy: the explosion of computerized records, emails, inter-office memos, Twitter trails, Facebook memorabilia, iPhone videos, YouTubes, recorded conversations, and the vast alternative universe of storage capacity for all this stuff makes it seem possible to constantly go back and reconstruct reality. All it has really done is amplified the potential for political mischief to suicide level.
It’s a major unanticipated consequence of the digital “revolution.” It has gotten us stuck looking backward at events, obsessively replaying them, while working overtime to spin them favorably for one team or the other, at the expense of actually living in real time and dealing with reality as it unspools with us. If life were a ballgame, we’d only be watching jumbotron replays while failing to pay attention to the action on the field.
Before all this, history was left largely to historians, who curated it from a range of views for carefully considered introduction to the stream of human culture, and who managed this process at a pace that allowed a polity to get on with its business at hand in the here-and-now — instead of incessantly and recursively reviewing events that have already happened 24/7. The more electronic media has evolved, the more it lends itself to manipulation, propaganda, and falsification of whatever happened five minutes, or five hours, or five weeks ago.
This is exactly why and how the losing team in the 2016 election has worked so hard to change that bit of history. The stupendous failure of the Mueller Investigation only revealed what can happen when extraordinary bad faith, dishonesty, and incompetence are brought to this project of reinventing “truth” — of who did what and why — while it provoked a counter-industry of detecting its gross falsifications.
This dynamic has long been systematically studied and applied by institutions like the so-called “intelligence community,” and has gotten so out-of-hand that its main mission these days appears to be the maximum gaslighting of the nation — for the purpose of its own desperate self-defense. The “Whistleblower” episode is the latest turn in dishonestly manipulated records, but the most interesting feature of it is that the release of the actual transcript of the Trump-Zelensky phone call did not affect the “narrative” precooked between the CIA and Adam Schiff’s House Intel Committee. They just blundered on with the story and when major parts of the replay didn’t add up, they retreated to secret sessions in the basement of the US capitol.