by Andy West
Table of Contents|
1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Okay, so let’s look at linguistic tricks in the core. This particular version is quite fancy and includes truth manipulations to engineer a ‘belief ride’. This relies chiefly on a poetic see-saw motion which lulls the brain. So, if you want to get someone to believe ‘narrower viewpoints’, then associate it with something which is manifestly true, like ‘wider roads’. Of course there is no connection whatsoever between these two topics, but the truth of one lends weight to the apparent truth of the other, as the see-saw rocks.
Our main roads are indeed wider than say, in the mid-nineteenth century. But evidence reveals that our viewpoints are also a great deal wider today, not narrower than those of the famously chauvinistic Victorian era. The statement is a lie. Current western society is actually regarded as the most liberal and broadminded there has ever been! But the brain unfortunately digests the whole package at once and simply believes it, true or not, unless you are on your guard.
Another trick to help reinforce the see-saw’s action, is to pop in occasional statements where both sides of the see-saw are genuinely true. An example is ‘bigger houses yet smaller families’. But in fact this is also an even more subtle deceit. Although there is now no direct lie, the see-saw’s poetic motion: positive-negative, positive-negative, acts to make ‘smaller families’ seem negative, i.e. a bad thing. In practice this is subjective, but ask your great aunt Mary what it was like living with eight siblings in a house of very modest size, rather than the comfortable suburbia she escaped to in adulthood. I think you’ll get a fairly firm answer that contradicts our meme!
A curiously slow, cold shock drifted down Alan’s body from somewhere at the back of his neck. How could Memmet possibly know his great aunt’s name? The familiar scenery around him took on a deceptive, almost transparent aspect, as though a parallel world was leaking through. The calls of birds seemed shrill and distant. He read avidly on through chill distraction.
Another element woven into the core is an attack on drinking and general lack of self-discipline. This is even allowed to disturb the see-saw motion during most of verse two. Well from a high moral standpoint, surely this at least can’t be wrong? But it is. It’s yet another trick. If you’ve read Chaucer or practically any other social commentary right back to the hieroglyphs, you’d know that despite an absence of TV, this behavior occurs at all historical times and has no special prevalence in ‘our era’ at all!
No-one would condone profligacy and over-indulgence. But the meme’s preaching against them stays deliberately vague, allowing the reader’s mind to define what ‘too much’ actually means, then playing upon buried guilt or anger at society to confirm an assumption of excess. In fact, most evidence suggests we are on average much less debauched and more self-disciplined than we used to be long ago.
As you can see, I find this kind of analysis really interesting, I’m probably a hopeless geek! However, if you’re still with me, I can send a great little gem about the line: “we’ve multiplied our possessions but diluted our values”. Or would you rather I finished off the core instead and got onto the tail?
Brightly dressed young children burst shrieking into the grotto and broke Alan’s mood of unreality. Two teachers trailed idly behind them, thankful to be out in the air and sun for a change, indulging in a short break as they relaxed their control and so their tension too.
“I’m getting paranoid,” he muttered to himself. Memmet was probably just using a random example to demonstrate his point. Yet doubts lingered. He decided to challenge the man about it. Perhaps this clever academic was ‘researching’ him for some reason, maybe to see what kind of people are fooled by negative memes. Though aunty Mary was ninety-two and rather difficult to communicate with these days, he resolved to check up with her on how many brothers and sisters she had, just in case.
Despite his suspicions about Memmet, the latest section of meme analysis had truly impressed him. At last he was finding out precisely how Paradox worked. And its workings were surprisingly subtle and clever. The tricksy engine of the poetic seesaw was almost a thing of beauty in its operation; like the intricate, miniature clockwork of an antique watch. And once again the reader’s unguarded mind was commandeered to supply so much! This time righteous assumptions about the profligacy and over-indulgence of other people, and very idealistic assumptions about such characteristics in other, unspecified eras. He took some comfort from the fact that the whole deception was very highly engineered.
Send me the gem. In for a penny, in for a pound. But how on Earth did you know I had a great aunt Mary?? Alan.
Once more he was surprised to receive an immediate reply, in fact it came even quicker this time. Yet the PDA still showed no signal! A familiar question filled his head. When others seemed so at ease with computers, why was it he always found them so frustratingly unpredictable?
Isn’t everyone’s great aunt called Mary? A very common name in the mid-twentieth century! More below...
He sighed. Somehow this answer seemed evasive, yet again. Or was he just too suspicious? He finished off the bulbs and fixed the grotto’s small fountain too. It was frequently vandalized. Back in the hut, he satisfied his grumbling stomach with a huge cheese and tomato sandwich, washed down with more tea, while he read the latest installment.
Copyright © 2007 by Andrew West